Officials have sounds the alarm to UK holidaymakers over an outbreak of a Victorian-style disease that has emerged in 17 separate EU countries. Dr Jose Hagan, team lead for Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunisation at WHO/Europe, issued a stark warning: “All countries, including those verified as having eliminated endemic transmission of measles, must be vigilant for possible importation and spread of this highly contagious disease”.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that in this country most cases have been confined to the capital, however it is beginning to spread.
The UKHSA wrote: “Most of the cases have been in London, although there have been cases picked up across the country and some are linked to travel abroad”.
Tajikistan has 600 cases, meanwhile Russia and Turkey have recorded almost 1000 between them.
In the UK, 67 cases have emerged – the fourth highest rate according to experts.
Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, painted a grim picture of what could be in store, as she told The Sun: “There is no question, we’re going to see a surge of cases if things continue this way.
“So far, we’ve only seen limited outbreaks across the country, but we’re likely to see more.”
According to the NHS, people should be looking out for small white spots on the inside the cheeks and on the back of the lips, a few days after cold-like symptoms and then a rash.
A high temperature, cough and sore watery eyes are common early symptoms.
Measles isn’t the only disease prevalent in the Victoria era that is threatening to make a comeback.
Recently, three people in the UK have died after contracting Diphtheria, a disease which is usually spread through coughs and sneezes.
In 2022, 87 people caught Diphtheria, up from a mere 10 the year previously. The higher rate of the disease may have come from an outbreak among asylum seekers that had just arrived in the UK.
Of the recorded cases last year, it is thought 72 were those that had just arrived in Britain. An asylum seeker died with the disease after being held in the Manston processing centre in Kent.
An additional 11 cases were connected to people with “companion animals”, with the belief being among experts that individuals had contracted the disease via their pets.
Despite the recent uptick in cases and three more deaths, the UK Health Security Agency has said the risk to the wider public remains very low.
Gayatri Amirthalingam, deputy director for public health programmes at UKHSA, said: “Our latest report shows that the number of diphtheria cases in the general population in the UK remains very low, with the vast majority of the cases confirmed in this report linked to a previously confirmed outbreak in migrants. Thanks to the success of the diphtheria vaccination programme in the UK, the risk to the wider public from diphtheria is very low.
“However, in recent years, we have seen vaccine uptake fall among young people due to the challenges posed by the pandemic and this leaves children and young people who are not fully vaccinated at risk.
“I would urge parents of children and young people who have missed out on these important vaccines to contact their school nurse, school immunisation team or GP surgery to arrange a catch-up as these vaccines offer the best protection as young people start their journey into adulthood.”
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