Measles in South Wales – what you need to know

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS

by Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

In June 2017 Public Health Wales announced that there were four confirmed cases of Measles in Newport. By July 24 the number of cases confirmed had increased to 10. This outbreak triggered a rolling vaccination programme in the area, with over 1,000 children receiving the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. This outbreak was caused by the same strain of measles that has affected more than 14,000 people across Europe this year, and has sadly killed 35 people to date.

So what do you need to know about measles to keep you and your family safe?

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness which is passed from person to person via droplets which are released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can live on surfaces for several hours and you can catch measles just by touching that surface and then placing your hands near your nose and mouth.

The symptoms of measles are:

  • Cold-like symptoms such as sneezing and a high temperature
  • A Cough
  • Sore, red eyes which are sensitive to light
  • Small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks
  • Reddish-brown blotchy rash which usually appears a couple of days after the other symptoms.

If you think that you or your child may have measles you should contact your GP. It is important to call the surgery before you attend so that they can take steps to reduce the risk of other patients becoming infected whilst you’re there. If you or your child has received two doses of the MMR vaccine or previously had measles then it is unlikely to be measles – there are a number of other conditions with similar symptoms.

 

Treating a measles infection

There is no specific treatment for measles, but there are a number of things you can do to ease the symptoms in ordinary cases.

  • Paracetamol can be used to reduce a high temperature and relieve pain.
  • Closing blinds/curtains or dimming lights can help with sensitivity to light.
  • A sore throat or a cough can be soothed with hot drinks, particularly those containing honey and lemon. It is important to note that honey should not be given to babies under 12 months old.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Wash away crustiness around the eyes with damp cotton wool.

Your local pharmacist will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your symptoms. They will also make sure that any medicines you buy over the counter are safe to take with your regular medication if you take any.

 

More serious cases of measles

Measles usually lasts for 7-10 days and although it is often unpleasant, most cases pass without any additional complications. However, some people can develop serious, and even life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis. Other life-changing complications can include blindness and deafness. Serious complications are more likely to develop in children under 5, children with a poor diet and people with a weakened immune system.

Warning signs of serious complications from measles to look out for include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain that is worse when breathing in
  • Coughing up blood
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions (fits)

If you or your child develops any of these symptoms you should go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or dial 999 for an ambulance.

 

Stop your family from being affected in the first place

The best thing you can do to protect you and your family from measles if make sure that you have all had two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose is usually given to babies when they are between 12 and 13 months old, and the second dose is given at 3 years and 4 months, but it is never too late to get vaccinated. If you’re not sure if you have received the vaccine, contact your GP surgery who will be able to check your records.

Yellow is the new black

Susan Huey 150x150Susan Huey, Clinical Pharmacist, Pre-registration Tutor and Yellow Card Champion for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Have you completed a yellow card? Are you encouraging your patients to report any adverse side effects to any medicines they are taking? All of us can do our part to help ensure healthcare products are acceptably safe for patients. Read more Yellow is the new black

Being a board member – what I have learned so far

Paul Harris 150x150By Paul Harris, Welsh Pharmacy Board member and Wales External Relationships Lead for Boots UK

In June 2014, I was elected to the Welsh Pharmacy Board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). One year on, I feel confident in my role but I remember well how I felt during the first weeks of my appointment Read more Being a board member – what I have learned so far

Developing a research strategy for Wales

Sarah Hiom 150x150
Dr Sarah Hiom, MPharmS, PhD, All Wales Specialist Pharmacist, R & D, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

A core message coming from our professional leaders is that ‘research is everybody’s business.’ A Research and Evaluation cluster is now included in the Advanced Pharmacy Framework of the RPS Faculty. Increasingly, the commissioning of NHS services is being based on patient outcomes so the need to provide evidence to support our current or future services is essential. Read more Developing a research strategy for Wales

Faculty Action Learning Sets – getting by with a little help from our friends

Rob Davies150x150
By Rob Davies, MFRPSII MRPharmS, Primary Care Pharmacist BCUHB, Board Member RPS Wales, Faculty Champion

As I was writing this blog, I was reminded of a line from one of my favourite Beatles songs: “With a little help from my friends”. For me, this encapsulates the essence of an RPS Faculty Action Learning Set: to be helped on your Faculty journey and help others on theirs. Read more Faculty Action Learning Sets – getting by with a little help from our friends

Develop your staff through the Faculty

sid150x150
By Sudhir Sehrawat, Director & Superintendent Pharmacist, Insync Healthcare Pharmacy, Cardiff South Wales, Cardiff and Vale LPF Lead

As we near the end of 2014, I am fortunate to have been nominated LPF Lead for Cardiff and Vale Local Practice Forum. For me, this post is full of excitement, opportunities and challenges. Cardiff and Vale LPF have an enthusiastic steering group and committed members. As we head into 2015 we are tasked with growing the membership – a challenge for all LPFs! Read more Develop your staff through the Faculty

Why all practising pharmacists should be involved in research

davidmcrae150x150By David McRae, Clinical Trials Pharmacist, Cwm Taf University Health Board, Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil

When I was asked to blog about pharmacy practice research and evaluation here in Wales, I gleefully seized upon the opportunity. It was a certain type of glee – the type of happiness you experience when you turn over an exam paper to find a twenty mark question on the topic you revised only last night. The recent RPS Annual Conference has focused many of our minds on research and why it is so necessary. Read more Why all practising pharmacists should be involved in research

Pharmacists well placed to advise on diabetes

diabetes-pic by Claire Howell, Community Pharmacist, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

Back in June, I was invited by a call centre in Swansea to perform diabetes risk assessments. Health professionals know what the risk factors are for diabetes but do the general public? Pharmacists, I think, are well placed to help raise awareness of these risk factors. Read more Pharmacists well placed to advise on diabetes

Pharmacy behind bars – the challenges

crichards150x150 By Cathryn Richards, Head of Pharmaceutical Services, HMP Swansea

Being a prison pharmacist has its own set of challenges but challenges tend to reap their own rewards. Most of the time I feel like I’m making a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.

I work in a Category B prison holding 445 adult male prisoners with the majority being Welsh.

Prisoners often arrive at the prison emaciated by drugs and alcohol, weak physically and mentally. Read more Pharmacy behind bars – the challenges

Procrastinate not – attend a RPS Faculty surgery

Hcrook150x150By Harry Crook, Owner of a community pharmacy in North Wales

First, let’s get one thing straight. Anyone who knows me will know I didn’t do this whole Faculty thing spontaneously! I was asked to do it and I said ‘yes’. However, anyone who knows me will ALSO know that I wouldn’t have said ‘yes’, if I wasn’t moved to do so!

It would be something of an understatement to say that I am less than proficient at recording my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) entries. I attend courses and I discover gaps in my knowledge all the time. I learn new things every day, most of which I should have learned years ago! But, and I know I am not alone, I am always ‘too busy’ to make the relevant entry. Clearly I’m not. But I like to tell myself that I am. And anyone else who will listen. Read more Procrastinate not – attend a RPS Faculty surgery