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Mumps outbreak at South Lakes school
TEENAGERS and young adults are being urged by health chiefs to protect themselves against mumps following an outbreak of the disease in a South Lakes school.
Professor John Ashton, the county director of public health, has spoken out after the illness affected pupils at Sedbergh School and the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.
“We know that there are many older children, teenagers and young adults who were not immunised with two doses of MMR vaccine when they should have been because their parents were alarmed by reports linking the vaccine with autism,” said Prof Ashton. “We now know for certain that these reports were based on bogus science. “However, the legacy of the scare remains with us and we have seen outbreaks of mumps in schools, colleges and uni-versities over the past decade.
“In the cases of UCLAN and Sedbergh I give top marks to the university and school for the efforts they put into containing the infection and preventing on-ward transmission to the local communities.”
Dr John Astbury, a consultant with the Health Protection Agency, said: “Mumps is highly infectious and spreads easily when introduced to universities, colleges and schools where a percentage of the students are unvaccinated. The most effective thing people can do to protect themselves is to ensure that they are fully vaccinated. “I would strongly advise any teenager or young adult who wasn’t vaccinated as a child to speak to a doctor and arrange to be vaccinated now. It isn’t too late.”
Mumps is a viral illness characterised by swelling of the parotid (saliva) gland, fever, headache, general malaise, muscle pain and loss of appetite. Mumps can also cause swelling in other glands, including the testicles, ovaries and pancreas. There is a small risk of infertility in males but the most serious complication of mumps is meningitis, though the risk is just one in 1,000.