An outbreak of mumps across the Dublin area has been confirmed by the HSE, with a majority of cases being centred in colleges across the city.
According to the HSE, there have been over 700 cases of mumps reported within Dublin in 2019. Nationally, there have been 1,793 cases reported so far this year.
Those between the ages of 15 to 19 have had the most cases this year, with 589 confirmed cases. Close behind is 20-24, which has had 525 total confirmed cases.
According to DCU’s pharmacist, this is partially due to the huge volumes of people who are present at schools and colleges.
There was also a mumps outbreak earlier in 2019, with cases being confirmed in South Dublin, as well as Trinity College.
The disease itself is a viral infection, with symptoms that include fever, headaches and swelling of both the cheek and jaw.
Mumps can be spread through both direct and indirect means, and the most effective way of avoiding the infection is to have received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
While the MMR vaccine is commonly received as a child, both teenagers and adults may get the vaccination if they didn’t receive the booster as a child.
DCU student Kevin O’Meara discussed his experience with mumps with The College View and how it has affected his time in college. He recently began to experience sweats, as well as pains behind his eye before waking up one weekend with swollen glands.
When he spoke to the doctor over the phone, he had O’Meara examine himself and confirmed that it was the mumps.
While he’s now over the worst of it, he explained how the after effects of the infection also take their toll.
“Most of the swelling has gone now, but honestly the worst part is the fatigue,” said O’Meara. “I thought I’d be able to get some course work done, but I actually can’t get my eyes to focus on my laptop without giving myself a headache”.
O’Meara also mentioned how supportive DCU lecturers have been while he’s been sick. “All [lecturers] have offered me extra resources over the next few weeks so that I don’t fall behind.”
When young children are infected with mumps, the outlook is generally good with complications being rare. However, for teenagers and adults, there is a potential for complications, which include deafness, viral meningitis, painful swelling of testicles and in rare cases infertility in men.
For students who have contracted the infection, it is recommended that they stay away from college due to how contagious the mumps are. To treat the disease, the HSE advises plenty of bed rest along with over-the-counter painkillers. A cold compress on the swollen glands is also advised.
Image Credit: Kylie Boyce