Vaccine plea for children after spike in mumps cases
THE number of people diagnosed with mumps has nearly doubled, prompting fresh warnings that young people and children should be vaccinated.
There have been 191 reported cases in the first six months of this year, compared to 104 for the same period in 2013.
About a third of cases involved those aged 20 to 34, with 73 reports of mumps in this age group.
Health experts warned that mumps is much less common than it used to be, but most cases occur in younger people born between 1980 and 1990 who did not receive the MMR vaccine.
"For the majority of cases no specific complications were reported. However, 11 of the 191 cases were reported as hospitalised," said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
More than half of cases had never been vaccinated or had only received one dose of the MMR jab.
The watchdog said that two doses have been recommended for all children since 1992.
It warned that the "best prevention against mumps is two doses of MMR vaccine".
The MMR is free and the first dose is normally given at 12 months of age with the second at the start of school.
"Older individuals who have never received two doses of the vaccine and wish to decrease their risk should contact their GP for MMR vaccination," it said.
The majority of cases occurred in the community and were sporadic, but 11 local outbreaks were reported. These included universities, schools, families and one community outbreak.
The HPSC described mumps as "an acute viral infection that is spread from person to person. It is a potentially serious disease for children and young adults and is very common in young children not vaccinated against it".
Mumps normally affects school-aged children, teenagers or young adults, although older people may contract the disease.
Most infections in children under two years have no apparent symptoms.
Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, malaise and swollen, tender salivary glands – usually the parotid gland which is located just below the front of the ear. Mumps often gives the appearance of swollen cheeks or jaw.
Current statistics show that 93pc of children at 24 months have had the MMR vaccine.
This is the highest national uptake rate ever recorded and compares to 2001, when MMR uptake was 69pc at 24 months.