The Union of Students in Ireland has urged any students without the Mumps vaccine to immediately make contact with their GP. The call comes after the Health Service Executive revealed a more than trebling of the numbers affected by the illness, which can be very serious and extremely painful – and particularly risky for young men. It’s highly infectious and spreads very rapidly through the same mechanisms as flu and the common cold
Speaking after the HSE’s announcement, Greg O’Donoghue, USI’s Vice President for Welfare, said:
“If you don’t know whether or not you’ve been immunised against mumps, now is the time to ask your family, or failing that, your GP – and if you haven’t had the vaccine, to find out from a GP now if you can get it. Mumps is incredibly painful and unpleasant, and results in serious, life-threatening outbreaks every few years. If you get the vaccine, you’ll be protected from a preventable and risky illness.”
How is it passed on?
The mumps virus is spread in the same way as the common cold and flu viruses. The mumps virus is airborne, which means that it can survive briefly in the outside environment. Therefore, mumps can be spread through:
- direct contact – for example, if you sneeze or cough, tiny droplets of fluid containing the mumps virus are launched into the air and can be breathed by others
- indirect contact – for example, if infected droplets are transferred to an object, such as a door handle, and someone else touches it, they may catch the mumps if they then touch their mouth or nose.
The most effective way to prevent catching mumps is to have the MMR vaccine, which is thought to be 95% effective in protecting against the mumps.
Mumps is a highly contagious infection. People who are infected are most contagious for 1-2 days before the onset of symptoms, and for five days afterwards.
During this time, it is important to prevent spreading the infection to others, particularly those at high risk of developing complications. For example:
- teenagers and young adults who have not been vaccinated
- pregnant women.