Young adults are being urged to check their immunisation status, particularly before they travel overseas, amid a rise in the number of cases of mumps being reported.
Director of Communicable Diseases for NSW Health, Dr Vicky Sheppeard said there were 15 reported cases of mumps during May. Most were young adults, and clustered in several regions of NSW. As not everyone who has mumps will see a doctor and have a test, it is likely that there are many more cases of mumps that have not been notified.
Dr Sheppeard said initial symptoms of mumps include:
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness and headache, followed by
- Swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands, especially near the angle of the jaw.
“To prevent the spread of mumps, children and adults should have two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine also provides good protection against measles and rubella,” Dr Sheppeard said.
Mumps was once a common childhood disease, but most children are now protected due to high vaccination rates. However, a significant number of young adults may have missed receiving two doses of MMR vaccine in childhood, as two doses were not routinely offered until the 1990s.
"Many people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s will not be immune, so it is particularly important they check their status with their doctor and get vaccinated if they are not sure," Dr Sheppeard said.
“Mumps can be quite a serious infection for adults. Complications can include swelling of the testicles in males, and rarely inflammation of the brain, the lining of the brain and spinal cord, pancreatitis and hearing loss. Mumps infection during pregnancy can result in miscarriage.”
"Although very rare, mumps can also cause sterility in males.”
Mumps takes two to three weeks to develop after exposure to an infected person, and people are infectious a week before and up to nine days after swelling of the glands.
Mumps is spread when a person breathes in the virus that has been coughed or sneezed by an infectious person, or by direct contact with their saliva.
"This is a timely reminder to parents that immunisation is the best protection against mumps. Children should be vaccinated on time with MMR vaccine at 12 months and again before they turn four years of age," Dr Sheppeard.
Make an appointment for an MMR vaccination with your local GP through 1st Available, or through a local travel health clinic.