Rise in mumps cases blamed on youngsters missing out on MMR jabs

Cases of mumps in Scotland have increased by almost 50 per cent in the past year, figures revealed Dec. 23.

Officials with Health Protection Scotland said that since the start of 2009 they had received 1,039 reports of mumps, of which 532 were confirmed by laboratory tests. This compared with 694 reports for the same period in 2008, including 166 confirmed cases.

HPS said the majority of cases were in young adults, ages 15 to 24, who had often not been immunized against mumps, the Scotsman reported Dec. 24.

Experts urged young people offered the measles, mumps and rubella jab as part of catch-up campaigns to take it up, because of the possible serious complications of mumps.

In 2004 and 2005, cases of mumps in Scotland and the rest of the UK increased massively, with more than 5,000 cases in 2005 in Scotland alone. Since then, cases have dropped until this year.

An HPS spokeswoman said that before the MMR jab was introduced in 1988, people were immunized for measles and rubella with no protection against mumps.

HPS also revealed that it had received 152 reports of measles in 2009, down from 207 in 2008. Whooping cough also dropped from 124 reports to 96, but cases of chickenpox increased from 11,284 in 2008 to 14,709.

HPS said the illness fluctuated from year to year and this increase was within the range seen in recent years.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "These HPS figures show how important MMR is in protecting people from very serious illness. It's never too late to complete the vaccination. Any 15-24-year-olds in this position are urged to speak to their GP [general practioner]."