Although most people usually recover from mumps without treatment, in some cases it can cause complications. Infrequent complications include viral meningitis, deafness and inflammation of the testicles.
Most people recover from viral meningitis without long-lasting problems and it rarely causes death, however after effects can include memory loss, deafness, depression, anxiety, attention deficits and subtle neurological effects later in life.
The rise in mumps looks set to continue in 2020, with 546 confirmed cases in January 2020 compared to 191 during the same period in 2019.
The steep rise in cases in 2019 has been largely driven by outbreaks in universities and colleges. Many of the cases in 2019 were seen in young adults born in the late nineties and early 2000s who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were children after a disgraced doctor falsely linked the vaccine to autism. These cohorts are now old enough to attend college and university and are likely to continue fuelling outbreaks into 2020.
Linda Glennie, Director of Research at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) said: “Mumps meningitis can be a frightening, although infrequent complication of mumps. MRF encourages everyone to get the vaccinations they are eligible for as immunisation is best way to protect yourself from mumps. Vaccination prevents most cases of mumps and even if a vaccinated person does get mumps, they are likely to experience a less severe illness.”
In a statement made to the press, Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “The best protection against mumps and its complications is to have 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. It’s never too late to catch up.
“We encourage all students and young people who may have missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past to contact their GP practice and get up to date as soon as possible.”