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Spike in mumps cases triggers new MMR vaccine warning from PHE

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The mumps virus The mumps virus is extremely contagious and universities are particularly prone to outbreaks

A dramatic increase in the number of cases of mumps has led to a fresh appeal from Public Health England (PHE) to the public to make sure they have been vaccinated for MMR. There have been 795 cases of mumps from Jan-March 2019, compared to 1,031 in the whole of 2018.

Teenagers attending university are particularly prone to the highly contagious disease, because of the close proximity to each other in lectures and social situations, and an outbreak in Nottingham this year has already infected 240 students.

This is particularly pertinent because many young people going to university now were born at the height of the now discredited MMR-autism scare, and might have missed out on vaccination as a consequence. ‘If you’re going to university, now’s the time to catch up if you missed out as a child,’ said Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England.

PHE also renewed its warning about the rising number of cases of measles. Of particular interest are families and students who are likely to travel to Europe in the summer. The latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed over 1,500 cases of the disease on the continent in April. Experts warned that measles is not a trivial condition and can be fatal to patients with a weak immune system.

'Measles can kill and is incredibly easy to catch, especially if you are not vaccinated,’ said Dr Ramsay, warning: ‘Even one child missing their vaccine is one too many.’

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