Mumps cases have risen to the highest levels in a decade, as Public Health England (PHE) urges patients to get vaccinated.
Data from PHE show that there were 5042 lab-confirmed cases of mumps in England in 2019, compared to 1066 cases in 2018. This is the highest number of cases since 2009. The rise in cases looks set to continue in 2020, with 546 confirmed cases in January 2020 compared to 191 during the same period in 2019.
‘The best protection against mumps and its complications is to have 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. It’s never too late to catch up,’ said Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England. ‘We encourage all students and young people who may have missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past to contact their GP practice and get up to date as soon as possible.’
The steep rise in cases in 2019 has been largely driven by outbreaks in universities and colleges. Many of the cases in 2019 were seen in the so-called‘Wakefield cohorts’ – young adults born in the late nineties and early 2000s who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were children. These cohorts are now old enough to attend college and university and are likely to continue fuelling outbreaks into 2020.
‘The rise in mumps cases is alarming and yet another example of the long-term damage caused by anti-vax information,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘Science proves that vaccines are the best form of defence against a host of potentially deadly diseases and are safer and more effective than ever before. Those who claim otherwise are risking people’s lives. Our vaccine strategy will soon be published outlining how we will increase uptake, limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and ensure every child receives two doses of their MMR vaccination.’
Mumps is a viral infection that used to be common in children before the introduction of the MMR vaccine. It is most recognisable by the painful swelling of the glands at the side of the face, giving a person with mumps a distinctive ‘hamster face’ appearance. Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain and fever, which may develop a few days before the swelling.