Mumps at 'decade high' in England

There were 5,042 lab-confirmed cases of mumps reported in England in 2019

There were 5,042 lab-confirmed cases of mumps reported in England in 2019

Numerous latest cases were seen in young adults born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who missed out on the triple MMR vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella, when they were children.

As these cohorts are now attending college and universities, PHE predicts that they are likely to continue fueling outbreaks into 2020 just like how the outbreaks in universities and colleges fueled a steep rise in 2019.

Last year a survey revealed that one in seven five-year-olds may not be fully up to date with some routine immunisations, with the figure rising to around one in four children in London. This is the highest number of cases since 2009.

Measles is also on the increase and health chiefs are warning young people to have both doses of the MMR vaccine, saying the full two doses are needed to maximise protection.

It is most recognisable by the painful swelling of the glands at the side of the face, giving a person with mumps a distinctive "hamster face" appearance.

Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself from mumps.

The man who led a study about the link, 1998, doctor Andrew Wakefield subsequently had his work discredited and he was struck off, but uptake of the vaccine dropped to about 80 per cent in the late 1990s and a low of 79 per cent in 2003. "This means you can still get mumps even if fully vaccinated; although mumps can be nasty especially in people past puberty, it is usually much milder in previously vaccinated people, so the best way to avoid mumps is to get the vaccine". "The best protection against mumps and its complications is to have two doses of the MMR vaccine". In rare cases, it can cause meningitis, deafness and infertility. "It's never too late to catch up", reminded Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England.

The minister said the health department will soon publish its vaccine strategy, adding that any one who claims vaccines ineffective are risking people's lives.

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