Avoid mumps – advice from NHS Lothian

NHS Lothian is asking students to watch out for mumps over the festive period, following a recent rise in cases across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

They’re asking everyone to be aware of the symptoms and what to do to avoid it spreading. Please read this information from NHS Lothian below to keep yourself, your friends and your family free from mumps.

Fight mumps – it starts with you
Mumps continues to circulate amongst young people in Edinburgh and the Lothians. If you are a student and returning home for the holidays, please remember that if you get the symptoms of mumps keep yourself away from other people as much as possible until five days after swelling. Please do not return to college until after this time. If you have any concerns about your health call your GP or NHS 24.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine provides the best protection against mumps. If you think you have not had two MMR vaccines call your GP for advice.

What is mumps?
Mumps is an acute viral illness that causes fever, headache and painful swollen glands. It is spread from person to person by coughs and sneezes. It can also be transmitted by direct contact through saliva.

Mumps symptoms can be unpleasant and very occasionally can lead to more serious complications.

What are the symptoms of mumps?
The initial symptoms of mumps develop around 18 days after contact with an infected person (but can be between 14-21 days).

Symptoms can include:
• Fever
• Headache
• Aching muscles
• Loss of appetite
• Swelling of the salivary glands on one of both sides of the face (glands close to the jaw)

How is mumps spread?
Mumps is spread through coughing and sneezing, or direct contact with respiratory droplets (e.g. kissing or contact with tissues or hands with saliva on them).

A person with mumps is infectious from several days before the start of swelling in their glands to five days after swelling starts.

A person with mumps symptoms should stay away from work, college or university for five days after the swelling first starts to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. They should also limit their contact with other people during this time.

If you or someone close to you has mumps you should be careful with hand hygiene, thoroughly washing hands using a liquid soap. Each member of the family should have their own towel. Pay particular attention to hand washing after coughing and handling objects.

The best protection against mumps is to have two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.

The MMR is a safe and effective combined vaccine that protects against three separate illnesses – measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). In the UK children are routinely vaccinated with MMR in childhood, at 13 months of age and pre-school age.

If you think you are not fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR contact your GP.

Student health services or your GP will tell you how to get your vaccinations if you need them.

Most people will recover from mumps within one to two weeks but sometimes it can lead to more serious complications, such as swelling of testes or ovaries, inflammation of the pancreas, viral meningitis and deafness.

Treatment of mumps
There is no specific treatment for mumps. People will usually recover after one to two weeks. Patients should drink lots of water to prevent against dehydration. Paracetamol can help to bring down fever.

If you think you have mumps and are concerned about your health you should phone your GP or NHS 24 (phone number 111) and explain your symptoms.

Further information can be found at www.nhsinform.co.uk. If you have further questions, please contact your GP or student health services.