'Significant' rise in suspected mumps cases in Wales

student receiving injection Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some universities have issued advice to students after a number of suspected cases on campus

There were five times more suspected cases of mumps diagnosed in Wales in 2019 than the year before, figures have shown.

Public Health Wales identified 2,695 potential cases of the viral infection last year - up from 519 in 2018.

The areas with the most suspected cases were Cardiff and Swansea, which have large numbers of students.

The health body said no outbreak had been declared but it was monitoring cases.

It urged students and the public to check they have had two doses of the MMR jab - measles, mumps and rubella - as a precaution.

Mumps is contagious and characterised by painful swelling of the glands at the side of the face.

Some universities are already warning students - who are at risk as they can be in close proximity for large periods of time - to get their jabs after a number of suspected cases on campuses last year.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The mumps virus is very contagious and can be passed through saliva

In Cardiff there were 764 suspected cases, almost nine times more than the previous year, when there were 87.

While there were 385 in Swansea, seven times more than in 2018.

In Swansea, the local rugby team was forced to postpone two Welsh Premiership matches following an outbreak earlier this month, when seven players and a coach were affected by the illness.

But the club said its away game against Newport on Sunday would go ahead.

What is mumps?

The contagious infection is spread by coughs, sneezes and through contact with saliva such as sharing drinks and cigarettes.

Other symptoms before the swelling may include:

  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling sick
  • painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries
  • high temperature

Anyone with symptoms is advised to see their GP and urged to stay away from school, work, university or social events.

Source: Public Health Wales

Public Heath Wales said the number of suspected cases did not mean all 2,695 people had been diagnosed with mumps, with GPs reporting possible cases before tests were carried out to diagnose it.

Dr Brendan Mason said: "It is not unusual to see an increase in mumps notifications among students shortly after the start of the new academic year.

"We continue to monitor the number of notifications we are receiving, but no outbreak of the disease has currently been declared."

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