Doctors last night warned that the crisis of mumps among teenagers and people in their early 20s had reached national &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/02/19/26469.html ' target=_blank>epidemic proportions, at 15 times the rate a year ago.
Nearly 28,500 suspected cases of mumps were reported in England and Wales in the first 17 weeks of the year, compared with 1,800 in the same period in 2004.
The scale of the crisis was revealed by the Health Protection Agency last night as doctors warned that the the illness could spread to younger children because of the low incidence of baby immunisation via the MMR vaccine in some parts of the country, reports the Guardian Unlimited.
According to the Scotsman, in January alone there were almost 5,000 cases notified by doctors – who are required by law to report if they see a patient suspected of having the illness.
The study said most patients were aged between 19 and 23 but cases in younger children may also occur due to the fall in uptake of MMR among infants.
Research published in 1998 caused panic among some parents when it suggested a link between MMR and autism – a claim rejected by the majority of experts.
The World Health Organisation recommends MMR coverage of 90% to prevent mumps but the uptake among two-year-olds in the UK fell from around 92% in early 1995 to around 80% in 2003/4, the Guy’s and St Thomas` team said.
Symptoms of mumps begin with a headache and fever for a day or two before swelling of the parotid glands -&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/08/14/34555.html ' target=_blank>salivary glands in front of and below the ears - which lasts four to eight days.
The mouth may also feel dry, chewing and swallowing may be sore, while fever, headaches, tiredness, lack of appetite, and mild stomach pain may also occur.
Mumps is usually a mild illness but there may be complications including meningitis, deafness in one ear, and inflammation of the pancreas or heart.
There may also be inflammation of the testicles which is uncommon in young children but happens to one in four males over 12 who have the illness.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969