9 April 2009
Nine hundred and ninety-eight laboratory confirmed cases of mumps in England and Wales have been reported to the Agency with onset in January or February 2009. This compares with 322, 274, and 1173 cases in the same periods of 2008, 2007, and 2006 respectively.
Cases of mumps have been high since 2004 and peaked in 2005 when over 43,000 cases were reported to the Agency. Since 2005, figures have decreased slightly but remained high.
Dr Mary Ramsay, who monitors mumps cases at the Health Protection Agency, said:
"The increased occurrence of the disease is mainly among older teenagers and young adults in their early twenties, and mostly among those in further or higher education establishments. Some in this age group were too old to be routinely vaccinated with MMR when it was first introduced in 1988. And some others may only have received one dose of MMR.
"The number of cases has increased more steeply in recent years because many of the young adults in this cohort (born between 1981 and 1989) are now at university or in further education colleges. This large number of people in semi-closed institutions allows the disease to pass more easily from one person to another.
"As the susceptible group is quite large we expected to see high numbers of cases to continue over the next few years.
"This rise in mumps cases is not due to the more recent decline in MMR uptake."
Health Protection Agency advice, along with the Department of Health, is that school leavers and other young adults who have not received MMR or only received one dose, should ensure that they take up the offer of MMR vaccination. As part of the MMR catch up programme, all children aged 5-18 years who have not received two doses of MMR should be being called for vaccination.
Notes to Editors:
1. More information on the current increase in mumps cases is available at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/hpr/archives/2009/news1409.htm
2. General information on mumps can be found on the HPA website at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&Page&HPAwebAutoListName/Page/1191942172901?p=1191942172901
3. For further information please contact the Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections press office on:
David Daley 020 8327 6647
Alexandra Baker 020 8327 7098
Georgina Fletcher 020 8327 6690
Louise Brown 020 8327 7080
Kate Swan 020 8327 7097
Last reviewed: 9 April 2009