Students need to get MMR jab following rise in mumps cases - HPSC


The Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Wednesday) warned all students to make sure that they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine following an increase in the number of mumps cases reported in recent weeks.

Mumps has been on the increase since the beginning of 2008, particularly in the under 25 year age group. Students starting or returning to college shortly are particularly vulnerable following at least seven outbreaks in third level colleges this year, says HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr. Joan O'Donnell.

"New students who haven't been vaccinated or who haven't had mumps need to talk to their GP or student health service about getting protected. So far this year 459 cases have been reported, 22 of whom were admitted to hospital. Almost 60% of cases have been in 10 to 24 year olds.

"This follows 142 cases in 2007, well down on 1079 in 2005 which came after a nationwide outbreak that year. It appears that most of these cases caught mumps in third level colleges or secondary schools.

"MMR protects against measles, mumps and rubella and two doses are needed to protect against infection. Anyone who is not sure about their vaccination status needs to get another dose to be on the safe side. The vaccine is free although an administration fee may apply for non-medical card holders.

"Mumps is a contagious acute viral illness that causes fever, headache and painful swollen glands. Complications are usually mild but it can cause meningitis, deafness and inflammation of the testicles, ovaries or pancreas. Students need to be aware that the best way to avoid it is to get vaccinated. Anyone who has mumps should stay off for nine days after the onset of swollen glands," added Dr O'Donnell.