With cases of mumps in England at their highest level in a decade, health leaders in Sefton are urging residents to make sure they are protected against the infection.
Provisional data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that there were 5,042 lab-confirmed cases of mumps in England in 2019, compared to 1,066 cases in 2018. This is the highest number of cases since 2009.
Mumps is highly contagious and tends to spread quickly in settings such as schools and offices, which can lead to outbreaks. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is the best protection against this infection.
Dr Craig Gillespie, local GP and chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “Mumps is often very uncomfortable and can sometimes lead to serious complications including viral meningitis and infertility.
“The most effective way to avoid getting mumps is to get both doses of the MMR vaccine. It prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and even if a vaccinated person does get mumps, they will likely have less severe illness than an unvaccinated person.”
Dr Rob Caudwell, local GP and chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, added: “If you are a parent, make sure your child has received both doses of the vaccine, the MMR vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing mumps.”
Young people who are away at university or in college are particularly at risk of catching mumps because they are in close quarters. In addition, those born in the late nineties and early 2000s did not receive the MMR vaccine when they were younger.
Rob added: “If you haven’t received both doses of the vaccine, or are unsure if you have been vaccinated, please contact your GP for advice. It is never too late to get the MMR vaccine.”
The symptoms of mumps include painful swelling of the glands at the side of the face, giving the sufferer a distinctive “hamster face” appearance. Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain and fever, which may develop a few days before the swelling. If you suspect that you or a family member has mumps, contact your GP.
For more information on the vaccine for mumps visit the NHS website at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/