March 27th, 2019

A number of suspected and confirmed cases of mumps have been reported by students at both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. We are working with Public Health England to inform students about mumps and explain why vaccination is important.

The risks to staff are low, however, should any member of staff have concerns then they should seek advice from their GP. Any confirmed cases of mumps in staff should be reported to the Safety Office.

Students exhibiting symptoms should visit their GP as normal for advice and treatment. While the symptoms can be unpleasant, complications are rare.  However, we would encourage staff and students who have not received the MMR vaccine to do so – it is freely available on the NHS. Halls and welfare staff are alerted and ready to support affected students with any concerns related to their health or studies. We wish anyone affected a very speedy recovery.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection caused by a paramyxovirus. Swelling of the parotid glands is the most common symptom of mumps. The parotid glands are a pair of glands responsible for producing saliva and they’re located on either side of the face, just below the ears.

More general symptoms often develop a few days before the parotid glands swell. These can include:

  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling sick
  • Dry mouth
  • Mild abdominal pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F), or above

In about one in three cases, mumps doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms.

Complications are rare but can include swelling of the ovaries (oophoritis), swelling of the testes (orchitis), aseptic meningitis and deafness.

How the disease spreads

Mumps is spread in the same way as the common cold and flu – through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose.

A person is most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop and for a few days afterwards.

If a student has mumps, they can help prevent it spreading by:

  • regularly washing their hands with soap and water
  • using and disposing of tissues when they sneeze
  • avoiding University or work for at least five days after the onset of swelling

When to see your GP

If a student suspects that they might have mumps, it’s important they contact their GP so a diagnosis can be made. While mumps isn’t usually serious, the condition has similar symptoms to more serious types of infection, such as glandular fever and tonsillitis. Students should let their GP know in advance if they’re going into the surgery, so any necessary precautions can be taken to prevent the spread of infection.

Diagnosing mumps

Mumps can be confirmed in the laboratory by testing a sample of oral fluid from the mouth. A GP surgery may either administer this test or may offer a test kit that enables the student to do the test for themselves. Alternatively, a test kit will be sent in the post from Public Health England.

It is important to confirm the diagnosis, so we would encourage students to use the test kit and return it either to the surgery or to Public health England using the freepost envelope provided. The test is very easy to do, and the kit comes with instructions. Test results will be sent to the students’ GP Surgery.

Protecting against mumps

Students can protect themselves against mumps by making sure they have received two doses of the combined MMR vaccine (for mumps, measles and rubella).

If students are not sure whether or not they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, they should check with their parents or guardians first and then with their GP.

If they have not had two doses of MMR vaccine, they should make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated. We still recommend two doses of MMR even if the single measles vaccine or measles and rubella vaccine have been previously adminstered.

MMR vaccine is freely available on the NHS and is the best protection against mumps. Some people may still get mumps after they have received two doses of MMR but they get a much milder illness and are less likely to suffer from any complications.

Find out more about mumps on the NHS website.

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