Upsurge in Lanarkshire Mumps cases

Written by Eddie Docherty.
Published at 13:09 on 22 January 2015.
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NHS Lanarkshire’s public health team is reminding people aged between 20-35 to get both doses of the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination if they have not already done so.

It follows a ten-fold increase in the expected number of mumps cases in Lanarkshire since the start of 2015.

There have been 31 cases since January 7, compared to an average of around 3-4 per month.

The majority of the cases are males aged between 20 and 35, although some are older, and most reside in the Cumbernauld and Clydesdale areas – around Lanark and Biggar.

All Lanarkshire GPs have been notified of the increase in mumps cases.

Dr David Cromie, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, said: “Mumps is a viral disease, usually experienced during childhood, but people of any age can be affected if they have not had the illness before or have not been fully vaccinated.

“Symptoms can include fever, headache, swelling of one or both cheeks or sides of the jaw and swollen glands.

“It’s an infection that can have serious complications including affecting the brain and in very rare cases, can lead to fatal complications.

“If you have any of the symptoms, contact your GP. Tests can be carried out to confirm the illness”

Mumps is spread through respiratory transmission from infected individuals. Treatment involves getting plenty of rest to allow your body’s natural immune system to fight the virus, and drinking plenty of water. However prevention is the best method.

Dr Cromie continued: “The MMR vaccine is the most effective way to protect against mumps. Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide a 90 per cent chance of protection. 

“People who are currently between 20 and 35 years of age, (born between 1980 and 1995), will tend not to have experienced natural mumps infection.

“So, unless they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, these people will be at a higher risk of suffering from mumps, particularly when the mumps illness is circulating in the community, as at present, or when travelling abroad to countries where mumps spreads more commonly.

“Those who have had one dose of the MMR vaccine only need one more dose to complete the course.”

Anyone between 20 and 35 years of age who is unsure about their MMR vaccination history, should check with their GP surgery to see if they need the vaccine. 

The MMR vaccine is routinely given to children aged 12 months and 3½ years of age. Completion rates for the two dose course at five years of age are over 95 per cent for NHS Lanarkshire.

Mumps is caused by a virus which can lead to fever, headache, and painful, swollen glands in the face, neck and jaw. It can result in permanent deafness, viral meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain) and encephalitis. Rarely, it causes painful swelling of the testicles in males and the ovaries in females. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Swelling and pain of one or both parotid glands are the usual main symptoms. The parotid glands are the main salivary glands. They are just below the ears and you cannot normally see or feel them. The salivary glands make saliva which drains into the mouth. 
  • The mouth may feel dry 
  • Chewing and swallowing may be sore 
  • Fever (temperature), headache, feeling tired and being off food may develop for a few days 
  • Mild abdominal (stomach) pain may occur 
  • The swelling of the parotid glands usually lasts four to eight days. 

Mumps is normally a mild illness, but complications sometimes occur. This is why immunisation is important. There may be no symptoms, or only very minor ones. Rarely, complications alone occur without the usual symptoms occurring first. The immune system makes antibodies during the infection. These clear the virus and then provide lifelong immunity. It is therefore very rare to have more than one episode of mumps. 

How mumps is spread 

Mumps is highly infectious, a cough or a sneeze can spread the virus over a wide area. It particularly spreads among the student population because of greater social mixing and living in close proximity. 

When to seek medical help? 

If you believe you have contracted mumps, the best advice is to see your doctor, while staying away from work or college for a minimum of seven days. You should avoid mixing with others until you are fully recovered. 

MMR vaccination 

MMR is the common name given to the Mumps, Measles and Rubella vaccination available. 

If you have already had mumps you don’t need the vaccine. You will have immunity already. If you think you have developed mumps over the past few days please see your usual GP.
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