Students at Lancaster University are being offered MMR vaccine after an outbreak of mumps. Eight clinical cases of mumps have been reported in the university’s student population within the last week.
Mumps is a contagious viral infection of the parotid salivary glands, located just below and in front of the ears. Transmitted through airborne droplets from the coughs and sneezes of infected people, it takes 14 and 21 days for the symptoms of mumps to develop, after coming into contact with someone who has the virus.
The University outbreak is not an isolated incident: the Health Protection Agency told virtual-lancaster mumps cases are currently being reported throughout the North West Region, mainly in university aged teenagers and young adults aged 17-25.
In a three week period up to the end of last week, 39 cases were reported in Lancashire, with 28 cases were in the Preston area and 11 in Lancaster, including the eight reported amongst the university students. There are also reports of increased cases in Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
Students with mumps at the Lancaster University are understood to be recovering well without serious complications.
“The University Health Centre, along with the support from NHS North Lancashire and the Health Protection Agency, has organised some additional clinics at the university to provide MMR vaccine to students and staff who have not had two doses of it before," said Dr Frank Atherton, Director of Public Health for NHS North Lancashire.
“This outbreak seems to be focused on Lancaster University," added Kate Brierley, Consultant Nurse with the Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit. "However, there has been a small increase in other mumps cases in North Lancashire."
Mumps is normally a mild illness, but in a minority of cases there can be severe complications, which is why children are vaccinated against it. Some of the complications can be serious including meningitis; ear infections that can lead to hearing impairment; inflammation of the pancreas; swelling and tenderness of the testicles in adult men and inflammation of the ovaries in women.
"People under 25 years of age who missed out two doses of MMR vaccine are particularly vulnerable to mumps. Anyone who suspects that he/she has got mumps should seek advice from either their doctor or by ringing NHS Direct on 0845 4647.”