Outbreak of mumps at Sedbergh School prompts warning from health chiefs (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Outbreak of mumps at Sedbergh School prompts warning from health chiefs
11:33am Monday 22nd October 2012 in News
TEENAGERS and young adults are being urged by health chiefs to protect themselves against mumps following a recent outbreak out of the disease in a South Lakeland school.
Professor Dr John Ashton, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, has spoken out after the viral 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 not surprisingly alarmed by reports linking the vaccine with autism,” said Prof Ashton. “We now know for certain that these reports were based on bogus science that has since been discredited. “However the legacy of the quite unnecessary autism scare remains with us and we have seen numerous outbreaks of mumps in schools, colleges and universities over the past decade, including recent cases in the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in Preston and in Sedbergh School.
“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 onward transmission to the respective local communities. We had excellent support.”
Dr John Astbury, a consultant with the Health Protection Agency’s Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit, said: “What happened in Preston and Sedbergh can happen anywhere. Mumps is highly infectious and spreads easily when it is introduced to universities, further education colleges and schools where a percentage of the students are unvaccinated, as we have seen numerous times in recent years.
“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 their family doctor and arrange to be vaccinated now. It isn’t too late. Anyone who isn’t sure of his or her vaccination status should ask the family doctor to check their immunisation history.”
Mumps is a viral illness characterised by swelling of the parotid (saliva) gland, fever, headache, general malaise, muscle pain and loss of appetite. It is an infectious illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes. The incubation period is usually 14 to 21 days.
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. In a small number of cases mumps can cause permanent deafness.