By Martha Brennan
A number of students in the University of Limerick have been diagnosed with the mumps infection in recent days.
According to a statement on UL Student Life’s Facebook page, multiple cases of the infection presented to the university’s Student Health Centre last week.
Following the diagnoses, the HSE’s Public Health Department and the UL Student Health Centre’s medical team released public information to address some of the questions and concerns which may arise from the recent outbreak.
Because of the close connection between the University of Limerick and NUI Galway – students here are being warned to keep on the lookout for any symptoms of the infection.
Mumps is a viral infection which generally presents with the swelling of one of the salivary glands in the neck.
Symptoms can also include fever, headache, muscle pain, chills, sore throat and swelling in the testicular area in men.
Not all of these symptoms may be present, and some cases can show no symptoms what so ever.
“As students, we are one of the most susceptible age groups to contract Mumps,” the NUI Galway Students’ Union says on its website.
“Mumps is an acute viral illness that causes fever, headache and usually painful swollen salivary glands. Mumps often gives an appearance of swollen cheeks or jaws.”
“The mumps virus is spread from person to person by coughs and sneezes. It can also be transmitted through kissing and other direct contact with saliva,” according to the Students’ Union.
Mumps can be prevented by immunisation with the MMR vaccine – which also protects against Measles and Rubella. MMR is routinely used in the childhood immunisation programme but at least two doses of the vaccine is required.
Students can ask for more information on the vaccine at their local GP’s office or in the NUI Galway Student Health Unit in Áras na Mac Léinn on campus.
“If you present any of the above symptoms or have been in contact with anyone recently diagnosed, please call to the Health Unit and stay away from densely populated areas, e.g. the Library,” the Students’ Union asks.
The number of cases of mumps in Ireland jumped by 900% in the last number of years with outbreaks hitting nearly every university as well as secondary schools.
According to the HSE, more than 60% of mumps cases affect young men and the majority of cases present in people aged between 15 to 24 years.
Although mumps is usually a more dangerous infection in adults than in children, the majority of cases can be treated promptly and without complication. More serious cases of mumps can have threatening side effects, such as the development of meningitis.
For more information see http://services.su.nuigalway.ie/site/view/349/.