Mumps outbreak at UCLan and Manchester University - urgent MMR advice to students

STUDENTS are being urged to check they have had their MMR jabs after outbreaks of mumps at UCLan in Preston and The University of Manchester.

In all, 82 student have become ill; 47 in Preston since the beginning of February, and 35 at Manchester from the start of the year.

Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, the Health Protection Agency’s leading expert in immunisation for the North-West, said: “Mumps is an ever-present risk in universities and further education colleges. It is an infectious disease. that spreads easily among young adults who missed out on the protection of two doses of MMR vaccine when they were children.

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“Two doses of the MMR vaccine are necessary for full protection. We are encouraging students who aren’t sure if they were fully vaccinated as children, to check with their GPs and arrange to be immunised if necessary. This is particularly important with exam time approaching. It would be unfortunate if students were to miss exams because of illness.”

Although his advice is primarily aimed at students, Dr Ghebrehewet pointed out everybody under 25 should check to ensure they were given two doses of MMR as children.

“Mumps is not confined to universities and colleges and anybody who has not been fully vaccinated can be at risk. A further benefit of MMR vaccine is that it gives protection against measles and rubella,” Dr Ghebrehewet added.

Mumps is a viral illness. Symptoms include swelling of the neck glands, fever and headache. Sometimes complications of mumps result, including meningitis and deafness.

“Anyone with symptoms of mumps should stay off work, university or school for at least five days to avoid spreading the disease and should seek medical advice before returning,” said Dr Ghebrehewet.