With the number of cases of mumps in England rising to the highest level in a decade, health bosses in Leicestershire are urging young people locally to make sure they are protected against the infection.
Mumps is a contagious viral infection that used to be common in children before the introduction of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. It is most recognisable by the painful swelling of the glands on the sides of the face, giving a person with mumps a distinctive "hamster face". Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain and fever, which may develop a few days before the swelling.
Provisional data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that there were 5,042 lab-confirmed cases of mumps in England in 2019, compared to 1,066 cases in 2018. This is the highest number of cases since 2009.
The steep rise in cases has been largely driven by outbreaks in universities and colleges. Many students born in the late nineties and early 2000s never received the MMR vaccine when they were young. Settings such as university halls allow mumps to spread quickly, because it is so highly contagious. It is estimated that over 25,000 students who never received the MMR vaccine started university last autumn.
Professor Mayur Lakhani, Leicestershire GP and Chair of West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said“Mumps is often very uncomfortable and can sometimes lead to serious complications including viral meningitis, deafness and infertility.
“The most effective way to avoid getting mumps it to get both doses of the MMR vaccine. It prevents mostcases of mumps, and even if a vaccinated person does get mumps, they will likely be much less severely ill than an unvaccinated person.
“If you haven’t received both doses, or are unsure if you have been vaccinated you can easily check your vaccination records online, or alternatively contact your GP for advice.”