NHS Lothian warns parents to have children vaccinated as Mumps outbreak spreads to school pupils

Letters have been sent to schools in Edinburgh and the Lothians warning

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:50 am
A mumps outbreak has sparked a warning from NHS Lothian (Photo: Shutterstock)

An outbreak of mumps in the Lothians has sparked a warning from the NHS to have children vaccinated as the virus spreads into schools.

Letters have been sent to parents with children at schools in the Lothians warning of the outbreak which has spread to some school pupils.

The virus, which most commonly affects young adults, causes a fever, aching muscles, headaches and the swelling of salivary glands on one or both sides of the face.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It also predominantly affects young adults but NHS Lothian have seen an outbreak of the virus in some school pupils in the region.

Affecting 'some school pupils'

A spokesman for NHS Lothian said: “We are currently seeing a higher than usual level of mumps in Lothian, mostly in young adults but some school pupils.

“The most effective strategy for preventing the transmission of mumps is vaccination with the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, with two doses required.

"We promote and run national immunisation programmes to encourage vaccination and increase immunity against preventable infections like mumps.

“We would encourage young people who have not received two doses of MMR to contact their GP practice.”

Mumps is spread the same way as the common cold, through drops of saliva transferred from person to person by coughs and sneezes or through direct contact with saliva.

In December, students at the University of Edinburgh were warned of an outbreak affecting students aged between 18 and 22.

The warning came after more than 7,000 cases of mumps were reported across universities in the United Kingdom.

Vaccinate your children

There is no cure for the virus but the infection usually passes within a week or two without causing significant problems.

However complications can include meningitis, deafness, swelling of testes and ovaries, and inflammation of the pancreas.

Official advice states that someone with mumps should stay away from work, school or university for at least five days after the swelling around the face starts in order to reduce the chance of passing on the infection.

The best way to prevent mumps in children is by ensuring they are fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.

The safe injection is given at around the age of 12 or 13 months, with a booster at the age of three years and four months old.

With both doses, the vaccine provides 95 per cent protection against the disease.

In the Lothians, the uptake rate for the MMR vaccine is 97 per cent for the first dose and 93.3 per cent for the second dose.