Mumps cases are on the rise


Low im­mu­ni­sa­tion rates in many parts of Auck­land mean a ‘‘lost gen­er­a­tion’’ is fac­ing a triple threat of dis­ease, ac­cord­ing to health au­thor­i­ties.

There have been 300 no­ti­fied mumps cases in the re­gion since Jan­uary, which is higher than all the cases of mumps in the pre­vi­ous 16 years com­bined.

Auck­land Re­gional Pub­lic Health Ser­vice is warn­ing that a large num­ber of 10 to 29 year olds are also at risk of measles and rubella. The ser­vice said the ‘‘lost gen­er­a­tion’’ of un­pro­tected young peo­ple was partly due to the MMR con­tro­versy in the late 1990s, some­thing which has been thor­oughly dis­cred­ited.

Young peo­ple needed to be sure they had two doses of the MMR vac­cine, med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Josephine Her­man said.

‘‘The im­pli­ca­tions for young adults are deeply con­cern­ing, given the risk of non-im­mune preg­nant women catch­ing rubella. This can re­sult in mis­car­riage or still birth and ba­bies de­vel­op­ing se­vere birth de­fects.’’

Any per­son who had not re­ceived two doses of the MMR vac­cine could ac­cess this for free and fam­i­lies were be­ing urged to check vac­ci­na­tion records if un­sure. Measles was an­other se­ri­ous threat to com­mu­ni­ties with low vac­ci­na­tion rates, Dr Her­man said.

‘‘It is likely we’ll see fur­ther measles out­breaks in schools sim­i­lar to those in 2011, 2014 and 2016. The measles virus is highly con­ta­gious and can lead to se­ri­ous med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions as well.’’

Mumps also poses a risk of mis­car­riage for women who are in their first three months of preg­nancy. In rare cases it can also cause male steril­ity.

A num­ber of adults may also have missed out on the sec­ond dose of MMR as the tim­ing was moved from 11 years to 4 years in 2001.

‘‘Mumps is now at large in the com­mu­nity. The only way we can stop this spread­ing fur­ther is to achieve high lev­els of MMR vac­ci­na­tion ,’’ said Her­man.

Signs of mumps in­clude swollen sali­vary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. Other symp­toms in­clude fever, headache, mus­cle aches, weak­ness and fa­tigue, and pain while chew­ing or swal­low­ing.

Mumps on the rise.

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