Concern at rise in mumps cases
A rise in mumps cases has prompted concern from Chief Medical Officer John Cann.
Several cases have been reported so far this year, compared to an average of less than one per year for the previous decade, according to a press release from the Department of Health.
Dr Cann warned mumps is highly communicable and it only takes a few unvaccinated children for it to spread.
Most children are protected against it through the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine; the Department of Health is urging parents to check their child’s immunisation record.
However, Paget-based paediatrician Peter Perinchief last year warned a ‘lunatic fringe’ of parents were failing to get their children immunised; one British doctor claimed the MMR jab was linked to autism, but he was later declared a fraud and stripped of his licence.
Symptoms of mumps include mild fever, headache, muscle ache and swelling of the parotid salivary glands which are in the area between the neck and jaw, below the ears.
Yesterday’s Department of Health release stated: “Although a serious disease, mumps is now very uncommon.”
The disease is spread by contact with an infected person, through coughing and sneezing.
The MMR vaccine, which was introduced for general use in Bermuda in 1983, is given to children at 15 months followed by a booster between the ages of four and six. It prevents almost all cases of mumps. The majority of children have been fully immunised by the age of six.
The statement said: “The Department of Health recommends that parents check their child’s immunisation record to see if he or she has had the mumps or MMR vaccine.
“If your child has not been vaccinated and is 15 months of age or older, contact your paediatrician or family physician to have your child vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Parents who suspect their child has mumps should contact their physician for diagnosis and treatment.
Children with suspected mumps should be excluded from school/day care for at least nine days after the swollen glands first appeared.