Somerset measles cases mapped as infections soar

Very sick young woman sitting on a couch holding her forearm and handkerchief at her nose fighting fever.
-Credit: (Image: SimpleImages)

Nine cases of measles have been confirmed in Somerset this year, included three in the last week, according to new data. England is currently grappling with a measles crisis, with over three times as many infections reported this year than the entirety of 2023 - our map illustrates how the outbreak has impacted Somerset.

Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reveals that more than 1,000 lab-confirmed cases of measles have been recorded in England this year. This figure is over triple the 362 cases reported last year and represents the largest outbreak in over a decade.

The South East, with 25 confirmed cases, and the South West, with 19, are the regions least affected by measles. North Somerset has had three and Bath and North East Somerset has seen one.

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Taunton Deane has seen two cases, with West Somerset one (occurred in the last week), South Somerset one (occurred in the last week), and two in Mendip, one of which was in the last year. There have been no cases in Sedgemoor, but six in neighbouring Bristol.

The most recent outbreak is believed to have originated in Birmingham last October. Since then, 580 cases have been confirmed in the West Midlands, but clusters of infections have been reported in every region of England.

Six out of ten infections (62%) were in children under the age of 10, but cases are also being reported in adults, with one in five cases (21%) in people over the age of 20, reports Bristol Live.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, a Consultant Epidemiologist for UKHSA, voiced her concern regarding the rising occurrence of measles cases throughout the nation, notably in London. She highlighted the highly infectious nature of measles and stated: "Measles cases have been rising across the country in recent weeks, particularly in London. Measles is extremely infectious, and outbreaks can spread very rapidly through communities like schools and nurseries, especially if those communities have low vaccination rates."

She further insisted on the paramount importance of the MMR vaccine for protection from measles stating, "The MMR jab offers the best protection against measles. Measles is preventable but we know some communities, especially in London, have very low MMR vaccination rates. That means many thousands of children around the country are still not fully vaccinated and may be at risk of serious illness which can lead to life-long complications or even death."

UKHSA has pointed out regions with lower MMR vaccinations as the primary cause for this widespread outbreak. In 2022-23, the percentage of children receiving at least one dose of the MMR vaccine by age five had declined to 92.5% from a previous 93.4%, falling short of the national target of 95.5%.

The situation is acutely severe in particular areas such as Birmingham, identified as the initial locus of the outbreak, where over a tenth of the children were yet to be immunised (88.1%).

"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. Your GP can offer the vaccinations your child needs to bring them up to date. If the NHS contacts you about catching up on missed vaccines, please respond as soon as possible."

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