Parents describe baby's 'scary' measles symptoms as cases soar

The parents of a five-month-old baby who was left struggling to breathe after contracting measles have described her "scary" ordeal as the number of cases soar.

England is facing a measles emergency with 86 confirmed cases in England over the past week, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

It brings the total number of measles cases recorded so far this year to almost 900 - a sharp increase from 368 cases in all of 2023.

About two-thirds of those affected are under the age of 10.

Health workers say the current outbreak, which started in the West Midlands last year, has now spread to every region of the country.

London has become the latest hotspot and five-month-old Margot House is among those who have recently contracted the highly-contagious disease.

Her mother Georgia House told Sky News: "It's really scary because I was holding my little baby, she was struggling to breathe and she looked god-awful.

"She had rashes on her tummy, behind her neck and going up her head."

Her daughter likely contracted measles earlier in the month when she was admitted to hospital for an allergic reaction, Ms House said.

As Margot is younger than 12 months old, she was not eligible for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and ended up back in hospital, needing help to breathe and eat.

The main symptoms of measles are a high fever, sore and red watery eyes, coughing, sneezing and a rash that usually appears after the initial symptoms.

Measles vaccinations in the UK were introduced in 1968 and, until recently, the widespread take-up had all but eradicated the disease until recently.

In recent weeks, hundreds of children have contracted the disease and health officials have warned that "many thousands of children around the country are still not fully vaccinated and may be at risk of serious illness or life-long complications".

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Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA, said: "Numbers of measles cases are rising across the country, with a particular increase seen in London in recent weeks.

"Parents should check their child's Red Book now to ensure that children are up to date with the MMR and other routine vaccines. If you're unsure, contact your GP practice to check."

GPs will be able to offer any vaccinations needed to bring them up to date, she added.

Margot will make a full recovery but her parents Georgia and James are urging anyone who may be behind on their vaccinations to get their jabs.

"You can stop this becoming an epidemic and a huge outbreak," Ms House said. "Allow people who do want to get vaccinated, but don't have the opportunity, to continue to live their lives without fear of getting an infection that could be life threatening."