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Caithness News Bulletins January 2005

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A Highland doctor is encouraging 13-25 year olds who have not been immunised against Mumps to attend their GP to be immunised. This advice comes as the numbers of cases of mumps are on the increase nationally, although the increases in the Highlands are not as high an increase as in Scotland as a whole.

Dr Geoff Cramp, Locum Consultant in Public Health, said: "In 2004 in the Highland Health Board area, there were 66 cases of Mumps notified to Public Health. 36 of these have been confirmed by laboratory testing and 30 are unconfirmed cases. This is in contrast to 2003 when there were 9 notified cases of mumps in Highland, only 2 of which were confirmed. There is therefore a 7.5-fold increase in the number of notified cases and an 18-fold increase in the number of confirmed cases in Highland. This is less than in Scotland as a whole where there has been an 19-fold increase in notified cases and a 35-fold increase in the number of confirmed cases."

"The main reason is that there is a section of the population that remains un-immunised. Two further reasons are that the level of immunisations in children has fallen and - due to the known increase in cases in Scotland - GPs have been, and remain, vigilant for the disease and are reporting more cases."

After 1988, children were given the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab, so those given the MMR jab in this age group are covered. Before 1988 children only got the measles vaccine, and in 1994 a one off catch-up campaign was undertaken for all children of school age to ensure they got the MR (Measles, Rubella) jab, and therefore were immunised for measles and rubella but were not covered for Mumps.

Dr Cramp explained, "as a result of this, most cases of illness are in the 13-25 year age group, especially those aged 17 to 20. This is the age group that are now in settings where the transfer of the Mumps virus is easier, such as schools, student residences, clubs and lecture halls."

"In Highland we have an established policy to encourage people who have not been immunised against Mumps in this age group and who are at risk to attend their GP to be immunised. Two doses of MMR are recommended. It is easy to forget the importance of immunisations in an age where we see few cases of infectious diseases, children too need to get the MMR at 15 months and pre-school, which protects against mumps, measles and rubella."