Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated after a suspected outbreak of measles in Southend-on-Sea.
The warning comes after the council confirmed three people have contracted the highly contagious illness.
Another five people are suspected of having the illness with test results waiting to come in.
If left untreated, measles can lead to serious medical complications.
All those infected attend a local day service for people with learning disabilities in the town, called Project 49.
MMR jabs have been given to 50 clients, staff and service users of Project 49 who may have been exposed.
37 were already found to be immune, according to Essex Live .
As with many other the best form of defense is prevention.
Because of the severity of the illness, which in rare cases can be fatal, it's incredibly important that you are up to date with your vaccinations.
The MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) was introduced in 1988, and is a completely safe vaccination that can be administered to anyone over the age of 6 months.
To avoid contracting measles, it's essential that all of those within your family are up to date on the MMR vaccine, which can be taken for free via the NHS .
If you're not sure if you or a member of your family is up to date, you can find out this by contacting your GP.
There are claims that the vaccination causes autism, but these claims were made by a doctor now struck off by the NHS, and subsequent studies have found to claim to be completely false.
If you plan to travel to the areas affected by the measles outbreak, currently thought to be mainly in Southend-on-Sea , some arrangements can be made.
Obviously if you are vaccinated, you need not worry, but because babies under the age of 6 months cannot be vaccinated against the disease, the best idea is to avoid travelling to the area altogether.
Measles is one of the quickest spreading viruses there is as you're able to contract the virus by spending as little as 15 minutes near someone with it.
You can easily catch measles by:
- Breathing in these droplets
- Touching a surface the droplets have settled on and then placing your hands near your nose or mouth (the virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours)
People with measles are infectious from when the symptoms develop until about 4 days after the rash first appears.
Therefore, it's best you stay vaccinated, and make sure anyone under the age of 6 months steers clear of dangerous, high-infection areas.
What to do if you catch measles?
If you do contract the virus, or start to suffer from the known symptoms, you should seek help immediately.
Before visiting your GP with your concerns ring them up prior, as they may need to make arrangements to prevent the spread of the disease.
You should also visit the doctors if you've been in close contact with someone who contracted the virus, and you have haven't had the MMR vaccine or had the infection before
Measles is an extraordinarily unpleasant experience, but will normally pass in about 7 to 10 days.
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