herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Hospitals warn of mumps threat in wake of safety scare

Children were not vaccinated
Children were not vaccinated

As Youngsters prepare to return to school, parents are being warned about the ongoing threat of mumps to children who have not been vaccinated.

Dr Alf Nicholson, paediatrician at Temple St Children's Hospital, said thousands of children born between 2000 to 2003 were not vaccinated against MMR (measles, mumps and rubella).

Vulnerable

This was because of unfounded scare stories about the safety of the vaccine.

"There were around 65,000 births in Ireland at that time, but the uptake of the vaccine fell to under 50pc," he said.

"They are now in their teens and if they have not received the vaccine are vulnerable to infection."

Dr Jack Lambert, infectious disease specialist at the Mater Hospital, also pointed to the risks among children and young people who are not vaccinated.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said the 213 cases of mumps to date this year are down on the 379 cases in the same period last year.

However, the continuing high number of cases shows the spread of infection is still not under full control.

More than a quarter of this year's cases are in the 15-24 year age group.

There were 12 cases of mumps this year in the under-fives and 43 among the 5-14 year age group.

Cases were also recorded among people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and also among the over-65s.

The MMR vaccine is given in two doses - the first when the child is aged 12 months and the second when the child is aged four or five.

The mumps virus can be spread from person to person by coughs and sneezes.

Deafness

It causes acute viral illness, with fever, headache and painful swollen glands.

Symptoms are usually mild but can cause discomfort and include swollen cheeks or jaw, fever, headache and a general feeling of being unwell.

In some cases it can have more serious consequences and can cause inflammation of the testicles, ovaries or pancreas, while leading to viral meningitis or deafness.

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