Wiltshire uni students urged to get up to date with vaccinations

Wiltshire uni students urged to get up to date with vaccinations

Published at 11:25am 5th September 2019.

Public Heath England says there's been a rise in mumps cases.

onsLatest figures show that 227 cases of mumps were confirmed in the South West between April and June 2019 with 2,028 cases of mumps confirmed across England within the same time frame. 

This compares to 795 cases confirmed in England last quarter, continuing the increase seen during the first quarter of 2019.

WHAT IS MUMPS?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection most recognisable by the painful swellings in the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive "hamster face" appearance.

It usually passes without causing serious illness and severe complications are rare however it can lead to viral meningitis if the virus moves into the outer layer of the brain. 

Other complications include swelling of the testicles or ovaries (if the affected person has gone through puberty) which may affect a person's fertility.

WHY HAS THERE BEEN AN INCREASE?

The increase in mumps has been mostly driven by outbreaks in university students. 

Cases were reported across England, predominantly in young adults aged 15 to 34 years.

301 new measles infections were also confirmed in the period between April and June 2019 compared to 231 in the first quarter of 2019. 

Cases were reported in all regions except the North East. 

Most cases (266) were in unvaccinated individuals aged 15 years and over.

PHE staff in the South West are attending Freshers Fairs to promote the vaccine, and messaging will be included in email updates and blogs from UCAS.

Dr Julie Yates, Lead Consultant for Screening and Immunisation for Public Health England South West, says the outbreaks "clearly demonstrate the need for sustained high vaccination rates."

"Starting college or university is an important and exciting time. As parents we want to make sure our children, whatever age they are are, are as safe and prepared as they can be when they start on this new adventure.

One of the things we can do is check to make sure that our young people have had all their vaccinations especially two doses of MMR and the MenACWY vaccine and if not make them an appointment to have them before the university term starts.

"Measles is easy to catch and can kill. Vaccines are there to stop the spread of disease and save lives.It's never too late to protect yourself and others."

Nearly half of the mumps cases this quarter were unvaccinated. While the mumps component of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is highly effective at protecting young children, immunity can reduce over time.

Therefore, older teenagers and adults who received two doses of MMR in childhood can still get mumps although this is generally mild compared to those who are unvaccinated.

vaccination2 pixabay
Uni students urged to make sure vaccinations up to date.

PROTECT AGAINST MENINGITIS AND SEPTICAEMIA:

Alongside the MMR vaccine, Public Health England say it is also important to remind students to make sure they've had the MenACWY vaccine which protects against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) - which can both be fatal.

Young adults are particularly at risk as they are carriers of the disease. 

Meningitis and septicaemia caused by the aggressive meningitis W strain previously caused a series of cases in young people.

The majority of freshers starting university in September 2019 will have been eligible for the vaccine as part of the school vaccination programme. However, older students and those from overseas may not have been eligible for the vaccine in school.

CHECK WITH YOUR GP:

The advice is for to students contact their GP to check that they have had the MenACWY vaccine before starting university or college. If that's not possible, they should check and, if necessary, have it as soon as they can after they arrive.

Students going to university or college for the first time, including overseas and mature students, who have not yet had the vaccine remain eligible up to their 25th birthday.

MEASLES SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. It's now uncommon in the UK because of the effective MMR vaccination programme. Although usually a mild illness in children, measles can be more severe in adults.

The initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after a person is infected. These can include:

  • Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough
  • Sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • A high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40°C (104°F)
  • A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck, before spreading outwards to the rest of the body
Measles pixabay
A brown blotch rash appears with measles.

Symptoms usually resolve in about 7 to 10 days. Complications include pneumonia, ear infections, brain inflammation (encephalitis) and even death.

MUMPS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

Mumps is most recognisable by the painful swellings in the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive "hamster face" appearance.

Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands.

More general symptoms often develop a few days before the parotid glands swell. These can include:

  • headache
  • joint pain
  • feeling sick
  • dry mouth
  • mild abdominal pain
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F), or above

In about 1 in 3 cases, mumps doesn't cause any noticeable symptoms.

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