Health authorities in Lanarkshire, Scotland are advising the young adult public (20-35 years) to get vaccinated with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in light of a surge of mumps reported in the county.
NHS Lanarkshire have reported a 10-fold increase in mumps since the beginning of the year. Specifically, 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.
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 will provide up to 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.