Field of Science

More UK mumps outbreaks in Glasgow, Scotland.

Typical mumps swelling.
I've written about this a lot - which isn't all that surprising given that our lab is one of a handful working on the virus - but mumps has struck again, this time raising it's head in Scotland. Here's a nice article.

The University of Glasgow has experienced more than the usual (a handful probably) of cases of mumps infection. Currently 15 students have been diagnosed with the virus which usually causes swollen salivary glands under the neck, although a number of more serious symptoms can result. The University is working closely with the community control the outbreak and to vaccinate those unprotected.

A worrying thing is that we know that at most, 50% of people infected with mumps fail to show any discernible symptoms, thus those 15 could be 30 and by the time any effort was mounted to stop the virus those 30 could rapidly double, triple or even more.

This is most likely explained by the fact that these places are quite big university cities packed full of 18-25 year olds, the new epidemiological groups the virus attacks now. If you went back in time in the UK to the 70's/80's mumps mainly affected young children (3-5 years old) yet now it is found in undergraduates. 

The reason why probably lies with the fact that these people lack the required levels of immunity to fend off the virus. Many may not have received any doses of the MMR vaccine while another load may have only gotten a single dose. Although we can't be sure of the numbers and probably many who got mumps may have got the recommended double MMR injections, but that's another story.

Just be aware of the symptoms and get vaccinated so we never have to worry about mumps outbreaks again.

Related posts on mumps:


  1. So I'm in the Uk where they don't have chicken pox as part of the routine vax schedule, so I took my child to a private clinic and paid £130 pounds for it. This 'clinic' turned out to be some woo-fest that offered measles, mumps and rubella individually for some crazy amount of money, plus a lot of other nonsense 'treatments'. The only problem was they said they didn't currently have the mumps vaccine, so parents wanting MMR individually were realy only getting measles and rubella. So I was sitting in the waiting room eavesdropping on the receptionist obviously talking to a potential client about the 'individual' MMR. When she got to the bit about there not being any mumps vaccine available there was a long pause. Then the receptionist said 'Well, I had it as a child' Implication: 'I'm sitting here talking to you, so it can't be THAT bad, right?' I suppresed the urge to grab the phone out of her hands and scream 'why are you asking a receptionist at a chelation therapy clinic for pediatric medical advice??'

  2. I think that receptionist said the right thing to say. In any case, they couldn't offer that vaccine, then why exacerbate the concern? If you can get an MMR shot, perfect, if not, the world won't end. There are much more serious infectious diseases around, and in many cases there's no effective vaccine available, and still affected people don't whine for it! In my case, I wasn't vaccinated of any of the MMR when I was a child and I'm still alive, I've been lucky and I 've never been infected with any contagious disease. Who knows, perhaps I'll suffer Alzheimer at 60. In life you can't give anything for granted.

  3. Yes - you were LUCKY. Some people aren't so lucky - like those unborn babies exposed to rubella in utero. Look it up. The receptionist is an idiot and a con artist. The MMR is available to EVRYONE for FREE on the NHS in the UK. The clinic was cashing in on the residiual fear from that crank Andrew Wakefield's entirely specious claims about the combined MMR. As a result, the private doctor is getting rich off scared, ignorant parents and more people get mumps - all for no fxxxing good reason. Reprehensible.

  4. I don't think the receptionist was right to say that - one persons experience is no match for studying how the virus effects an entire population. I guess it is correct to say that mumps generally is not life threatening but even that statements hides a lot of - albeit rare - danger: encephalitis, painful testicular swelling and even miscarriage. And what about those people who immunosuppressed?

    To the second person, the people who live in countries that are continuously at risk from dangerous infection do cry out for vaccination. Look at dengue virus in South-East Asia, measles in sub-Saharan Africa and also worldwide HIV infection.

    To summarise: the MMR affords us an incredibly safe and effective means to control three serious infections across the world.

  5. Conor, I didn't realize until I read your 'about' section that you're in Belfast, too. The clinic I referenced is in Belfast - on the Cregagh Road - that's all I'm going to say. - First Anonymous

  6. I assume you're talking about Synergy Healthcare ( These guys are well known for this kind of stuff (along with autism treatment with chelation therapy) but yeah they do offer the single vaccines except they can no longer source the individual mumps vaccine. They do however state that you should get your child all three, which is kind of funny given the best option for you to do so is through the MMR.

  7. Yep - that's them. When the doctor was preparing the CP vax for my child, he launched into a 'warning' about how 'too many vaccines' were given to children 'too young' and recommended I read some literature around the topic. Er, sure, whatever: I tried to strike the right balance between polite but unreceptive. His unease with vaccines didn't preclude him from taking my £££ for administering the vaccine.


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