FRESHERS are urged to check if their vaccinations are up to date – while students prepare for the start of the semester.
Northwest England's Public Health England (PHE) asks newcomers and students to check before the semester to see if they are up to date with vaccines after the number of mumps cases in the UK has risen.
The latest figures show 457 cases of mumps, of which -301 were new cases, to the northwest between April and June, with 2,028 cases of mumps confirmed throughout England during the same period.
Compared to 795 confirmed cases in England in the last quarter, the increase continued in the first quarter of 2019.
Mumps is an infectious viral infection that is most noticeable in the painful puffiness on the side of the face, giving a person a distinctive "hamster face".
The infection usually proceeds without serious illness or serious complications. However, mumps can lead to viral meningitis when the virus enters the outer layer of the brain. Other complications include swelling of the testicles or ovaries (if the person has gone through puberty), which can affect fertility.
The increase in mumps was mainly caused by outbreaks of university students. Most of the cases (266) concerned unvaccinated persons aged 15 or over.
As part of the "Value of Vaccines" Campaign, PHE encourages universities to share vaccine information and resources with students before and during the semester to ensure all students are aware of the importance of the vaccine, especially MMR and MenACWY.
Angela Hardman, Deputy Health Director of Public Health England North West England, said: "Although it is normal for mumps to break out of universities every few years, there are a significant number of cases – the highest quarterly figure since 2009.
"Together with the ongoing measles outbreaks, these figures clearly show that persistently high vaccination rates are required.
"We urge parents and their children, no matter how old, to check if they received two doses of MMR before the semester starts, and measles are easy to catch and can kill."
Students are also reminded that they have received the MenACWY vaccine, which protects against meningitis and septicemia (septicemia) – both of which can be fatal.