Reports of mumps increase by over 500% in first seven weeks of year

Reports of mumps increase by over 500% in first seven weeks of year

The number of mumps cases notified to health authorities has soared a staggering 515% for the first seven weeks of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

Another 45 cases were notified last week, bringing the seven-week total to 320. By week seven of 2018, just 52 cases had been notified.

Of the 45 most recent cases, by far the highest number (19) occurred in the east of the country. There were six cases in the midlands and six in the west.

The age group most affected were 20-24-year-olds, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

This group were babies at the time an article appeared in The Lancet medical journal in 1998 linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine with bowel disease and autism.

The article, by Andrew Wakefield, was subsequently discredited but uptake of the vaccine dropped at one point to 70%. The first dose of the MMR vaccine is generally given to children around nine to 15 months of age, with a second dose at 15 months to six years.

There were 18 cases of mumps last week in the 20-24 age group and 14 cases among 15-19-year-olds.

More males were affected than females, 25 v 20 cases. The virus can affect male fertility, albeit this is a rare side-effect, as is viral meningitis and deafness. More common symptoms include swollen glands, headache, and high temperature.

A schools rugby match in County Dublin was recently cancelled in the wake of an outbreak. College students in the greater Dublin area have also been affected.

Meanwhile, HPSC figures also show that influenza is still circulating in Ireland. To date this season, 38 flu-related deaths have been reported to HPSC - the majority occurring in those aged 65 years and older, while 112 cases have been admitted to critical care units. The highest hospitalisation rates continue to be seen in the under fives.

To date this season, 2,083 hospitalised confirmed cases have been reported to the HPSC, the majority due to influenza A.

Thirteen outbreaks were notified to HPSC last week, seven the east of the country. The outbreaks occurred predominantly in hospitals, community long-stay units and nursing homes.

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