Mumps cases treble in Suffolk

THE number of cases of mumps in Suffolk has more than trebled in the last year, worrying new figures have revealed.It is the second year in a row that numbers have soared and coincides with a decline in the uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) combined vaccine.

THE number of cases of mumps in Suffolk has more than trebled in the last year, worrying new figures have revealed.

It is the second year in a row that numbers have soared and coincides with a decline in the uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) combined vaccine.

According to Suffolk Health Protection Team's (SHPT) Annual Report on Communicable Diseases in Suffolk there were 215 incidents of mumps in 2005, compared to just 69 in 2004 and 24 in 2003.

Meanwhile the number of people deciding to have the MMR1 vaccine is dangerously low, with 90.2% of the population inoculated in the first quarter of 2005, 88.4% in the second quarter and 84.6% in the third. No figures were available for the final quarter of last year.


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The report, which was compiled by Dr Torbjorn Sundkvist, consultant in communicable disease control for the SHPT, said the 15-25 age group accounted for nearly 140 cases last year.

It reads: “Many of the cases in Suffolk have contracted it from the many university outbreaks outside the county. Although there have been several big immunisation campaigns...this has, at best, only had a marginal effect on the national outbreak.”

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Dr Sundkvist said the current outbreak would die out soon as more and more people became immune after encountering the virus, while the younger generation would be protected by the two MMR vaccinations given to them.

But he admitted the low uptake of youngsters being given the vaccine in Suffolk remained a concern.

“The drop of uptake was brought about by the controversy surrounding MMR vaccine, linking its use to unsubstantiated association with autism and intestinal changes.

“Although there has been no evidence to support this claim, some parents decided not to allow their children to receive MMR. Parents need to be clear that the risk of catching measles, mumps and rubella is far dangerous to their children than any postulated risks associated with MMR vaccination.”

MUMPS FACTFILE

n Mumps is a virus infection known as a myxo virus, which typically causes enlargement of the two salivary glands in the cheeks - giving an appearance like a hamster with food in its cheeks.

n Sufferers often have a dry mouth and are feverish with headache and difficulty swallowing.

n If caught by adult males, mumps will cause swollen, tender, inflamed testicles and may later cause subfertility in a minority of those affected.

n It is transmitted mainly by infected saliva, which is infectious for approximately six days prior to the onset of swelling but the individual may be infectious for up to two weeks after the onset of swelling.

n Usually all that is required is treatment of the symptoms with paracetamol, regular rinsing of the mouth, and plenty to drink.

n Actually having the disease confers lifelong immunity, and the MMR vaccine is supposed to have a similar effect.

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