Health UWE

Mumps outbreak at UWE – what you need to know

You can still get it if you’re vaccinated — but it’ll probably be less serious than if you are unvaccinated.

In an email sent to students, UWE has revealed that there have been cases of mumps reported to the university.

The e-mail, sent on the 28th of November, states:

“There have been cases of mumps reported to the University. Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu, so take precaution by washing your hands and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze.

The most effective way to prevent the transmission of mumps is vaccination with the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine. You are strongly advised to check your MMR vaccination status. You need two doses to be protected but there are no risks to your health if you get an extra dose. Contact your GP to check your vaccination status – if you’re unsure, don’t assume you’ve had them.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Mumps results from infection by the mumps virus. It’s characterised by:

  • swelling of one or both cheeks or sides of the jaw
  • fever
  • headache
  • swollen glands
  • a high temperature of 38C or above

You should be aware of the symptoms even if you are vaccinated.

If you suspect you have mumps call NHS 111 and stay away from others for at least five days after the swellings appear.

How do I get the vaccine?

If you’re registered at the University Heath Centre on campus you can have the vaccination there.

If you’re going to the Heath Centre or your GP surgery, please let them know in advance, so they can take any necessary precautions to prevent the spread of infection.

There is no cost involved in receiving the vaccine.”

This latest outbreak follows a rise in mumps cases throughout the UK, with a particularly high number hitting university students in Nottingham last year, leading to concerns that people are not getting fully vaccinated. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed to be protected from mumps, with many only having the first dose. There should be no harm in having more doses than needed, but always check with your doctor first.

Protect yourself by regularly washing your hands (antibacterial hand gel is available at The Students’ Union shops) and by using and then binning tissues immediately as they are used. If you think you have mumps, follow the NHS and University advice above, and don’t risk infecting others who may be less able to fight the infection.

Lower rates of vaccination against the disease have been ascribed to Andrew Wakefield, who suggested a link between the vaccine and autism, who has since been struck off as a doctor and described as “dishonest, irresponsible and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain [of children]” by the General Medical Council, saying that he “abused his position of trust”.

Even if you have had the vaccine, you can still get mumps, though it will be less serious than an unvaccinated person getting it, according to the NHS “After 2 doses of MMR, virtually everyone (more than 99%) will be protected against measles and rubella. Protection against mumps after 2 doses of MMR is a little lower (90 to 95%) and appears to gradually decline over several years.”

Featured photo: U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz

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