More than 400 cases of measles confirmed in England amid European outbreak

The 440 cases in England are being linked to “ongoing large outbreaks in Europe” (Rex)

More than 400 cases of measles have been identified in England this year, health officials have said.

The 440 laboratory-confirmed cases of measles between January 1 and May 9 show figures are well up on 2017, when there were just 267 confirmed cases. In 2016, there were 531.

The increase has been linked to “ongoing large outbreaks in Europe”, according to Public Health England (PHE).

PHE is urging people to check they are properly vaccinated against the highly infectious viral illness, which can be fatal.

Anyone who has not received two doses of the MMR vaccine is at risk, while young people mixing in close proximity, for example at festivals, are more vulnerable.

Parents are being urged to take up the offer of MMR vaccinations for their children (Rex)

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: “The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe.

“The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children.”

There are currently large outbreaks in Romania and Italy and those travelling to these countries should check health advice beforehand.

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Dr Ramsay said: “Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch up.

“This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at one year of age and as a pre-school booster at three years and four months of age.

“We’d also encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks.”

The news comes just months after the World Health Organisation announced that the UK had eliminated measles for the first time last September (REX)

Of the laboratory confirmed cases, 164 were in London, 86 in the South East, 78 in the West Midlands, 42 in the South West and 37 in West Yorkshire.

The news comes just months after the World Health Organisation announced that the UK had eliminated measles for the first time last September.

This meant the UK had reduced the number of cases to a low enough level to stop it spreading through the population for at least three years.