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Mumps is a highly infectious serious illness caused by a virus. The time from becoming infected to becoming unwell is around 14-21 days. People with the disease are most infectious just before they become unwell and for 5-10 days afterwards.
Over the last four years there has been a large outbreak of mumps in young adults across the UK and there has been a recent increase in mumps amongst students. Outbreaks of mumps have been reported in several UK universities and at Oxford University, so please read this important advice on how to protect yourself.
- Why are students at increased risk?
- Symptoms and effects
- What to do if you think you have mumps?
- What should I do to protect myself?
- Where can I get more information about mumps?
Why are students at increased risk?
At present, mumps is mainly affecting older teenagers and young adults in their early twenties, and is mostly found amongst those in further or higher education establishments. Some in this age group may have received only one dose of MMR.
The number of cases has increased more steeply in recent years because many of the young adults in the “one dose” MMR cohort born between 1988 and 1993 are now at university or in further education colleges where the disease tends to spread rapidly from person-to-person because of greater social mixing. Although some of these students may have received a second dose later, many have not. Those born before 1991 may have received a second dose of “MR” vaccine protecting against measles and rubella but not mumps.
Those students at particular risk are those entering university for the first time who have not received two doses of MMR and students of any age who have no history of MMR vaccination, so they should now seek the protection that it affords. It should also be remembered that any young person who has not had two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk of contracting not only mumps but also measles or rubella.
Symptoms and effects
Mumps is frequently more severe in adults than young children. It usually starts with a fever and headache for a day or two. It then presents with swelling and soreness of the parotid salivary gland (located at the angle of the jaw, in front of the ears) and a "flu like" illness. Mumps can also cause orchitis (swelling of the testicles), oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries), ear infections and swelling of the pancreas. It can also affect the central nervous system causing meningitis or deafness.
In addition, mumps can have serious consequences for your studies. If you catch mumps you will probably be ill for 7-10 days and will need to stay away from lectures and tutorials and to limit social contact for a minimum of five days.
What to do if you think you have mumps?
Your initial reaction should be to stay in your room or at home and to phone your College Doctor, College Nurse or GP for advice. Do not go into the University or your college.
What should I do to protect myself?
The Health Protection Agency recommends that young
protected against mumps by receiving two doses of MMR vaccine, which
protection. In line with this, the University of Oxford strongly
recommends that ALL new students, Graduates and Undergraduates,
vaccination before they arrive in Oxford.
- Check with your local doctor whether you have had two previous MMR vaccinations or have had mumps before. (Please note: in 1994 some children received MR vaccine. This contains only measles and rubella. It does not protect against mumps.)
- If not, ask your local doctor whether vaccination is available. If so, you should book an appointment now. If the vaccine is not available locally please inform your new doctor in Oxford (the college doctor) during medical registration in Fresher's Week.
- If you have not had MMR or mumps infection previously, the best protection is to have two doses of MMR each one month apart.
- If you have had two previous MMR vaccinations (which is unlikely) you do not need any further doses.
- If you have had one previous MMR vaccination you should have another one before you come to Oxford.
- Bring your MMR immunisation dates with you when you register with the college doctor or other doctor in Oxford.
Where can I get more information about mumps?
Further information on mumps and the MMR vaccine at: