Mumps cases increase as students return to schools and colleges


The national mumps outbreak that started in 2018 in several regions (west, northwest and northeast), with subsequent spread to most regions in 2019, is still ongoing.

Mumps activity peaked in May 2019 but declined during the summer months. Since the second week of September, mumps cases have increased again. This coincides with re-opening of schools, colleges, institutes of technology and universities.

In September 2019, 69 cases were notified to HPSC compared to 56 notifications for the same time period in 2018. Nearly half of these notifications are from the HSE East region.

Mumps cases in 2019 to date

  • Between weeks 1-39 2019 (end September) 1,765 cases of mumps were notified, compared to a total of 575 notifications for 2018
  • Age group distribution: most cases are in the 15-24 year age group (58.5%), median age 20 years
  • Among those in the 15-24 year age group, school, university or social setting was reported as the most likely place where mumps cases were infected (among those cases where this information was available)
  • Overall, 72 cases (4%) were reported as hospitalised, the average hospitalisation was 4 days (range 1-32)
  • Most notifications have been reported in the HSE East region (Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow) (42%) although all areas have reported cases

Mumps symptoms
Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, tiredness and swollen, tender salivary glands. Mumps often gives the appearance of swollen cheeks or jaw.

What to do if you have symptoms of mumps
If you have mumps symptoms you should stay at home, not go to school or work for at least five days after symptoms start to prevent spread. If making an appointment to see your GP let him/her know you think you have mumps.

MMR vaccination
The best protection against mumps is to be age appropriately vaccinated with the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine. Children are routinely recommended MMR at 12 months and at 5-6 years of age through the national immunisation programme. All children should be age appropriately vaccinated. Older children and adults particularly those born since 1978, who never had the MMR vaccine or only one dose, should speak to their GP about getting the vaccine.

Receiving two doses of MMR vaccine will protect about 88% of individuals who have received the vaccine against clinical mumps.

Age group most at risk of mumps
Teenagers and young adults in the 15-24 year age group are most at risk of mumps. Many of this age group are in educational settings where mumps occurs as a result of close person to person transmission in these settings.