Residents in Wiltshire have been advised to check their children are up-to-date with their measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations.

This comes after an "alarming" 30-fold rise in measles cases across Europe last year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Over 30,000 cases were reported between January and October 2023, compared with 941 cases in the whole of 2022.

Measles can be very serious in some children, leading to hospitalisation, and in some cases, death.

The disease can spread easily among unvaccinated children, especially in areas of proximity such as nurseries and schools.

The first symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after infection and, among others, can include cold-like symptoms.

The rash usually first appears on the head or neck, before spreading to the rest of the body.

After a rapid rise of cases in the West Midlands, the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) Chief Executive has warned that further outbreaks of measles will spread to other towns and cities unless urgent action is taken to increase MMR vaccination uptake in areas at greatest risk.

The MMR vaccine is a routine childhood vaccination and children are offered the first dose when aged one year and the second dose aged three years four months.

According to the latest data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the percentage of 5-year-olds in Wiltshire that have received two doses of the MMR vaccine is 92.4 per cent.

This is above the percentage for England as a whole (84.5 per cent), as well as the South West (90 per cent).

The areas in the South West with the lowest amount of five-year-olds having received two doses of the MMR vaccine are Bristol (84.3 per cent) and Swindon (86.8 per cent).

Government data shows that there were 10 laboratory confirmed cases of measles in the South West from January 2023 to November 2023.

Gemma Brinn, public health consultant for Wiltshire Council, said: “There is no reported increase in the number of confirmed measles cases or enquires related to measles in Wiltshire in the last 12 months.

“However, measles remains a highly contagious infections among those who are unvaccinated and can cause very serious illness and lead to hospitalisation.

“If you think your child has measles, you should ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.

“Don’t go to the GP or any other healthcare setting without calling ahead first.

“Having two doses of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to prevent Measles.

“MMR vaccine is one of the routine childhood vaccinations and most children are already vaccinated against measles.

“If your child has received both doses of the vaccine, they are unlikely to have the virus.

“Increasing MMR coverage across our population is one of our priorities in Wiltshire and we are calling on all parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses.

“To see if your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines, check your child’s personal child health record (PCHR), known as the red book, or contact your GP practice.

“It is never too late to catch up.

“The MMR vaccine is free on the NHS, whatever your age.

“If anyone has missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, contact your GP practice to book an appointment.”

According to the NHS, the first symptoms of measles can include: cold-like symptoms; sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light; watery eyes; swollen eyes; a high temperature; small greyish-white spots in the mouth; aches and pains; loss of appetite; tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy.