BREAKOUTS in measles are increasing in Spain and Europe as fewer people get jabbed against the disease in childhood.
Teenagers and young adults who missed out on the MMR vaccine are most at risk and are being urged to get their shots before travelling abroad.
The call comes as the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona announced that five flight attendants and a passenger had been diagnosed with the highly infectious disease in Spain last month.
The head of preventative medicine at the hospital Antoni Trilla announced the outbreak on Twitter, saying that those affected had travelled on domestic flights and to other countries in the EU, adding that the possibility of new cases had not been ruled out.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, transmitted by breathing in airborne droplets from the nose and mouth or touching the surfaces they are on.
The infection usually lasts seven to 10 days. Symptoms include a red rash on the face and greyish spots in the mouth, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, a high temperature and bloodshot eyes.
While the UK’s robust vaccination programmes mean outbreaks are rare, European countries are seeing a surge in the number of cases which has been blamed on a drop in the number of people being vaccinated.
In the first six months of 2018, more than 41,000 people were infected in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.
In 2017 there were 23,927 cases, a huge increase from the 5,273 in 2016.
And last August Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England warned: “We have seen a number of measles outbreaks in England which 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.
“Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch up.
“We would encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks, heading to large gatherings such as festivals, or before starting university.”