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Measles Europe outbreak 2018: How do you contract measles? Can you get it twice?

Measles has torn through Europe in one of the largest outbreaks in recent history, with more than 41,000 now infected.

In the first six months of 2018, a total of 37 people have died at the hands of the normally preventable disease.

The World Health Organisation (WTO) has called on countries on the continent to take immediate action as cases pile up.

With 807 confirmed cases in the UK so far, the highly infectious disease has apparently made its way over from people travelling in Europe.

How do you contract measles?

Measles is a highly infectious disease which can be spread via aerosol transmission.

This means the spread of measles is possible via droplets in the air produced by sneezing and coughing.

With serious side effects like brain swelling and blood poisoning, some people are at great risk from the disease.

Normally, it progresses without harm, and symptoms do not progress, but children and immunocompromised people are in danger.

Measles outbreak Europe 2018 treatment

Measles outbreak Europe 2018: Can you get Measles twice? (Image: GETTY)

Breathing in droplets laced with the virus is one major way to contract it but surfaces with the active virus on it will also transmit measles.

After touching a surface exposed to the virus, placing your hand in the area of your mouth or nose can allow the disease into your body.

At the moment, Serbia is ranked as the most dangerous for the disease, with the most infections of any European country.

Once the disease has been contracted and run its course in a person, antibodies from the disease protect for years to come.

Measles symptoms NHS disease

Measles symptoms can be difficult to get rid of, but are easy to treat (Image: GETTY)

What are the symptoms of Measles?

A measles infection can last from seven to 10 days. Symptoms include:

encephalitis (infection and swelling of the brain)


febrile convulsions


liver infection (hepatitis)

Contracting measles a second time is unlikely but possible, much like contracting chickenpox a second time.

Measles is treated with several methods, mainly in hopes to prevent discomfort as it runs its course.

Measles vaccine MMR autism link

There is no link between the MMR and autism, despite assertions from an erroneous source (Image: GETTY)

These include drinking water, taking aspirin, staying in a dark room, using damp cotton to clean the eyes, and saying off school or work to prevent further spread.

Otherwise, measles is a fully preventable disease, as the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is administered at a young age to protect against it.

The MMR has seen less usage recently, following a scientific paper more than 20 years ago which falsely linked the vaccine to cases of autism.

The NHS recommends children are fully vaccinated as a child, at one year old before attending school for the first time.

Vaccinations mean the disease is much less prevalent in the world, and drastically reduces outbreaks with herd immunity.

However, Italy has spurred possibility of anti-vaccination spreading as the upper house of parliament voted to not fine those refusing to vaccinate.

This move means the disease is likely to develop more as parents feel more free to choose against it, allowing measles to continue sweeping through Europe.

Dr Nedret Emiroglu, from the WHO, told the BBC: “This partial setback demonstrates that every under-immunised person remains vulnerable no matter where they live and every country must keep pushing to increase coverage and close immunity gaps.”

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