Young people advised to get vaccinated as HPSC warns of mumps outbreak


The HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Tuesday) warned all young people, particularly second and third level students, to make sure that they are protected against mumps following a huge rise in cases since the start of 2009.

Already 848 cases have been reported since January compared to just 62 for the same period in 2008, according to specialist in public health medicine, Dr Suzanne Cotter.

"To be protected you need to have had two doses of MMR vaccine or to have previously had the mumps. There is no other way that you can be protected.

"We have seen an on-going increase in mumps throughout 2008, and now 2009, especially in third level colleges. It appears that relatively few students are taking up the free vaccine provided by the HSE through student services and GPs, despite previous alerts about getting protected against the disease. All students and staff in colleges, universities and schools and who have not had two doses of MMR and who can't remember having mumps, should see the student health service or their own GP for the vaccine. Anyone who is not sure about their vaccination status needs to get another dose to be on the safe side.

"So far this year, at least 14 cases - all male - have been hospitalised as a result of mumps infection, mainly because of orchitis (inflammation of the testes). Many other young people have been severely affected by mumps since the outbreak began, leading to missed work and lectures, with potentially serious consequences for academic performance and interference with exams.

"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.

"Anyone who has mumps should stay off for five days after the onset of swollen glands," added Dr Cotter.