Unvaccinated students have been advised to get an MMR jab after three confirmed cases of mumps were reported at Kingston University this week.
This is the fourth outbreak of the highly contagious virus at the university in the past six years, which causes swelling of the face, enlarged glands, fever and muscle aches.
A Health Protection Agency (HPA) spokesperson said: “People with mumps should not attend seminars, lectures or exams. If you think you may have mumps, please contact your doctor. The best way to avoid the disease is to get vaccinated twice.”
People born between 1988 and 1992 will probably only have been offered one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).
The infection can last for as long as two weeks, posing a serious threat to revision, dissertations and exams. It is contagious for about five days after the swelling appears, and is spread in the same way as the common cold and flu viruses.
HPA Consultant Dr Fiona Neely said:“Students who can’t remember whether they had two doses of MMR when they were younger should contact their GP. A booster dose is not harmful even if they have been immunised already.”
The most serious cases of mumps can cause loss of hearing, severe abdominal pain and male sterility.
The close socialising that occurs at university provides the ideal environment for an infectious disease like mumps to spread.
In 2005, more than 500 students and staff were given emergency vaccinations after six people were infected with the disease.
The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) has been increasingly avoided by concerned parents in the past decade following the flawed and discredited research that linked the jab to development of autism.
Kingston University’s PR Manager Anita Gupta explained: “Mumps is becoming more common in the general population again especially since the MMR scare when parents stopped immunising their children.”
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