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UK Government Issues Warning in Response to Outbreaks of Deadly Disease

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Although the number and severity of outbreaks of the infamous measles virus have greatly been reduced by the implementation of widescale vaccination programs, the highly contagious disease still poses a threat and can be passed around by unvaccinated members of the population.

The UK government’s Public Health England (PHE) agency issued a warning today advising Brits to check if they are vaccinated against the measles virus, in light of a surge in the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of measles across England so far in 2018.  

From the start of 2018 until May 9, 440 cases of measles have been confirmed in England, with 164 cases in London alone. Other parts of England affected include the South East, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

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“PHE local health protection teams are working closely with the NHS and local authorities to raise awareness with health professionals and local communities,” the agency said in an official press release on May 11.

Public Health England said a number of Brits were infected with the deadly disease while on holiday in other parts of Europe which are facing large outbreaks, and brought the infection with them back to the UK, passing it on to other unvaccinated people in their communities.

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“The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe. The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children,” Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at Public Health England, said.

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Although the virus is capable of causing death, Public Health England warned that such an occurrence is rare, but encouraged everyone to ensure they are vaccinated against the virus and other highly contagious diseases, in the interests of public safety.

According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 90,000 people were killed by measles in 2016, down from 550,000 in 2000.

Two doses of the vaccine are typically administered separately to offer better protection against the virus.

“Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had 2 doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up,” Dr. Ramsay added.

READ MORE: It's Official: 'Anti-Vax' Conspiracy Theorists Likely to Blame for Measles Rise

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