Mumps outbreak hits British varsities after students ‘opt out of jab’
London, Dec. 12, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Hundreds of students have been struck down by a severe outbreak of mumps that is spreading across British universities.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that passes from one person to another through saliva, nasal secretions, and close personal contact. The condition primarily affects the salivary glands, also called the parotid glands. These glands are responsible for producing saliva.
Public Health England figures show that more than 7,200 suspected mumps cases have been reported in the UK since July, almost triple the same period last year.
Health officials said students were driving the surge and urged any who missed out on the MMR jab to get vaccinated.
In recent weeks, outbreaks of the highly infectious disease have been reported at universities including Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol.
The surge in cases is linked to a dip in uptake of the MMR vaccine two decades ago.
The current generation of students were born at the height of a mass health scare triggered in 1998, when now-disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield made a link between the vaccine and autism.
Simon Stevens, of NHS England, said: ‘Mumps is infectious and causes serious health complications, and the stark rise in cases is another reminder that opting out of protective jabs like MMR is dangerous and can make preventable diseases fatal.”Dangerous misinformation about vaccines and falling uptake are a public health time bomb.’
Dr Doug Brown of the British Society for Immunology said: ‘The UK has seen a worrying increase in people diagnosed with mumps this year, with over 15,000 cases reported so far compared with just over 6,000 at this time in 2018.
‘We can all be protected from mumps by having the MMR vaccine. To curb this continuing spread of mumps we need 95 per cent of people to be vaccinated – a target that the UK has not reached for some years – and we are now seeing the effects of this failure.’