Mumps on the rise

Recent figures from Public Health England (PHE) show a sharp rise in cases of mumps. There were 5042 laboratory confirmed cases of mumps in England in 2019, compared with 1066 cases in 2018.

Students and young people who may have missed out on their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations are being encouraged to get immunised.

According to PHE the rise in cases looks set to continue in 2020, with 546 confirmed cases in January 2020 compared with 191 during the same period in 2019.

The steep rise in cases has largely been 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, says PHE.

Pain and swelling of the testicle (orchitis) affects 1 in 4 males who get mumps after puberty. The swelling is usually sudden and affects only one testicle. The testicle may also feel warm and tender. Swelling of the testicle normally begins 4 to 8 days after the swelling of the parotid gland. An estimated 1 in 10 men experience a drop in their sperm count, however, this is very rarely significant enough to cause infertility.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says: ‘The rise in mumps cases is alarming and yet another example of the long term damage caused by antivaccination information. 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.’

The government’s vaccine strategy is to be published soon. It will cover plans to increase vaccine uptake, limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and ensure every child receives two doses of their MMR vaccination, he added.

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