A warning has been issued to residents in Sussex following an outbreak of measles across the country.
Public Health England is urging people to check they are up-to-date with two doses of the MMR vaccine after seven cases of the disease were reported in Surrey.
As of December 14 more than 75 cases had been reported in the UK although no cases have yet been reported in Sussex, a spokesman for Public Health England said.
The call to make sure people are protected against the disease comes ahead of people gathering for Christmas celebrations.
Dr Margot Nicholls, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control with Public Health England (PHE) South East, said: “Measles is extremely infectious. Christmas is fast approaching and gatherings will be held where the disease can spread easily.
“It is really important that anyone who hasn’t had two doses of the MMR vaccine contacts their GP surgery to get up-to-date. If you’re unsure whether you or your children have had the vaccine, check your child’s Red Book or contact your GP surgery to find out. You do not need to seek additional vaccines if you and your children have had two MMR vaccines in the past.
“With ongoing outbreaks in other parts of Europe including Romania, Italy and Germany, we’re also warning that anyone travelling to these countries for the festive period is at particular high risk. If you’re planning to go to these countries, contact your GP to arrange an appointment for vaccination before you travel, if you’ve not received two MMR doses in the past.”
Anyone with symptoms of the disease is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice in the first instance to prevent the illness spreading further.
Dr Nicholls added: “Members of the public should be vigilant for the symptoms of measles, including high fever; sore, red, watery eyes, coughing, aching and feeling generally unwell and a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.
“If you’re concerned that you or your child may have measles, please do not go to A&E or your GP surgery straight away. Instead telephone your GP or ring NHS 111 for advice. This will prevent measles being spread to other people who may be vulnerable. If you think you have symptoms and your surgery is closed for the festive period, telephone NHS 111 for advice – do not go straight to A&E.
“If you think you could have measles, it’s also really important to stay away from areas where you could come into contact with lots of other people – so stay away from any Christmas gatherings if you have symptoms, and especially from vulnerable patients in hospitals, care homes or other settings. We understand Christmas is a time to visit loved ones, but measles can be serious for these groups and spreads easily in these places.”