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World Cup fans advised to get MMR jab

Football fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup should ensure they are up-to-date with their MMR jab, Public Health England has advised.

It follows ongoing large measles outbreaks in Europe.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be fatal. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine is given in two doses, typically in childhood.

In 2017, measles outbreaks affected more than 20,000 people in Europe, leading to 35 deaths.

Cases were highest in Romania, Italy and Ukraine, with Romania - the worst affected country - reporting 5,562 cases in 2017.

The surge in measles circulation is mainly associated with travel.

In the first three months of 2018, Europe reported more than 18,000 cases of measles. Russia reported more than 600 cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation for Public Health England, 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."

Low risk

The UK saw 282 cases in 2017, linked to the continuing outbreak in Europe.

The majority of these were teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine as children.

The overall risk of measles to the UK population is still very low, but due to ongoing measles outbreaks in Europe, cases in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur.

The UK recently achieved WHO measles elimination status, meaning that for the past few years the number of cases has been low enough to stop the disease circulating around the country.

Measles symptoms include a runny nose; sneezing and cough; sore, red eyes; a high temperature and, after a few days, a red-brown blotchy rash.

Adults and older children can be vaccinated at any age if they have not been fully immunised before.

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