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Sunday 28 May 2023 Dublin: 10°C
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# Infectious
Uptick in mumps in recent weeks as HSE advises MMR vaccine for anyone without two doses
Of 46 cases this year so far, nearly one-third were notified in July.

THE HEALTH SERVICE has recorded an uptick in mumps cases in recent weeks, with nearly one-third of the year’s caseload to date notified last month.

Of 46 mumps cases that have been recorded in 2022 to date, 14 of those were notified in July, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The HSE has advised that anyone who did not receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as a child should be vaccinated “as soon as possible”. 

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that causes painful swellings in the parotid glands located under the ears, as well as headaches, joint pain and a high temperature.

Six cases have been recorded in children this year up to the age of four; four cases between the ages of five and nine; three cases among 10 to 14-year-olds; and four cases in 15 to 19-year-olds.

Among adults, there have been 11 cases in 35 to 44-year-olds, the highest of any adult age group. 

The 45 to 54-year-old and 55 to 64-year-old groups have experienced five cases each, with three cases in 25s to 34s; three in 20 to 24s; and two in over 65s.

After a surge of more than 2,000 mumps cases in 2015, the illness fell to relatively low levels in the following years.

However, it picked up pace again in 2019 when there were 2,761 cases recorded, followed by 2,919 in 2020.

However, cases fell again significantly last year to only 109, which were spread across the year.

Measles is present in Ireland in much lower numbers, with 64 cases recorded in 2019, six in 2020, and none last year.

One confirmed case and six possible cases of measles have been recorded so far this year, with four of those having been notified in the last four weeks.

The HSE said that some children may have missed the advised two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, leading to outbreaks.

Additionally, it warned that older children and young adults who did not receive two doses of the MMR vaccine as a child to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). It is a live vaccine which means it contains weakened forms of the measles, mumps and rubella viruses,” the HSE said in a statement.

When the measles vaccine was introduced in Ireland in 1985, the number of cases of measles dropped from 10,000 in that year to 201 cases in 1987.

“Measles is highly infectious and the number of cases of measles and the complications of measles would increase rapidly if children were not given the MMR vaccine.”

The MMR vaccine is given to babies at 12 months of age and children should get a second dose at age four or five.

The second dose is usually given at school by the HSE’s school immunisation teams but in some areas it is given by GPs.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to give the best protection, the HSE advised.

“Some children may have missed their two doses of MMR vaccine and this has led to recent outbreaks of mumps and measles,” the HSE said.

“Older children and young adults who have not completed (or are not sure they have completed) their two-dose MMR vaccination schedule should be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

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