Mumps cases soar by 900pc since 2011
The latest health surveillance figures revealed Ireland recorded 2014 cases of mumps in 2015 – a 900pc hike on the 165 cases recorded in 2011.
A number of mumps outbreaks have now also hit Irish schools and colleges over recent years.
One college, University College Cork (UCC), recorded a mumps outbreak two years ago.
Health Service Executive (HSE) analysis of the outbreaks nationwide revealed that more than 60pc of mumps outbreaks involved young men.
While mumps can be a mild but irritating infection in the majority of cases, health experts warned that potential complications can include meningitis, deafness as well as orchitis which is the inflammation of the testicles, ovaries and even pancreas.
The majority of recorded cases are in people aged from 15 to 24 years.
The peak number of cases within this group occurs in those aged from 18 to 20 years.
Health Protection and Surveillance Centre (HPSC) figures showed mumps detections have been rising consistently since 2011/2012.
A total of 165 cases were recorded in 2011, with 163 in 2012, 223 in 2013, 742 in 2014 and 2014 for 2015.
Figures for 2016 have yet to be released.
However, it is understood a number of mumps cases have involved people already vaccinated.
A number of possible factors have been cited for the increase in detections.
These range from the fact vaccines offer protection in only around 88pc of cases, many of those who get the vaccine fail to take the required follow-on booster shots, some people opt not to be vaccinated by the MMR jab and the theory, which is still under examination, that there is an vaccine-resistant strain of mumps now spreading.
In the US, the Centre for Disease Control - which has faced a number of major mumps outbreaks - estimate that one vaccine dose is 78pc effective with a second booster shot offering 88pc protection.
In New York, a recent mumps outbreak was blamed on an apparently vaccine-resistant mumps strain.
However, the HSE urged young people to take advantage of available vaccinations which offer protection to the majority of users.
“Vaccination with MMR vaccine is the only way to protect (against measles, mumps and rubella).”
“Parents and young adults should make sure you or your children are up to date with their MMR vaccines.”
If someone has already been in contact with someone who has mumps, the MMR vaccine can help ensure that any dose they get will be in a much milder form.
The HSE urged people to go to their GP for MMR vaccination if they have not had two MMR vaccines or if they have a preschool or primary school child who never had MMR vaccine.
GP visits are also urged if they have a primary school aged child who missed out on the second dose of MMR vaccine in Junior Infants or if parents are unsure if their child has had the full course of two doses.
However, the HSE stressed that the MMR vaccine can require four weeks to become effective.
* In the original version of the above article, a HSE spokesperson was quoted as saying that “most (of those affected) had not had the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine”. This was incorrect, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has stated that only 10% had not had the vaccine in 2015. The statement made by the HSE referred to an outbreak of measles in Ireland in 2016 involving 40 cases occurring in the South, South-East, North-East, East and Mid-West, and not to any increase in the recording of mumps. We are happy to correct the record and have deleted the sentence in question.