‘Protect yourself against infections’

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HEALTH chiefs are urging people to protect themselves after the number of reported mumps cases in the region rocketed four-fold.

There were 133 cases of the viral infection in the North-East between April and June this year, compared to 32 cases in the same period last year.

A similar increase has been seen nationally, with cases up to 930 compared to 468 in the same period.

In the North-East, 56 per cent of cases were reported in young people aged 14 to 24.

Health chiefs say most people recover from mumps within a week.

But it can lead to an inflamed pancreas, testicles, or ovaries and even viral meningitis.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA), which published the figures, is urging young people to protect themselves against mumps and similar vaccine-preventable infections, including measles.

Julia Waller, immunisation lead for the HPA in the North-East, said: “There is no treatment for mumps but it can be prevented by the safe and highly effective MMR vaccine.

“It’s vital that children receive both doses of the vaccine, and ahead of returning to school or university after the holidays, we are urging parents to ensure their children have received the two doses, which are required to ensure the best protection.”

The latest data also shows a national increase in measles cases, which is up to 964 between January and June, compared to 497 last year.

Regional uptake of both doses of the MMR vaccination is 96 per cent for the first dose and 91 per cent for the second dose.

Anyone who is concerned should contact their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.