Teens Offered Emergency Vaccinations as Mumps Cases Rise by 1,300%; EPIDEMIC FEAR AFTER UNIVERSITIES SUFFER WORST OUTBREAK IN 15 YEARS

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Byline: REBECCA SMITH

BRITAIN is gripped by fears of a mumps epidemic as cases of the disease hit a 15-year high.

Latest figures revealed a 14-fold increase in the number of suspected cases in the past year with 1,000 children, teenagers and adults being seen by medics every week.

The Health Protection Agency revealed that in the first three weeks of this year there were 3,504 suspected cases, this compares to just 248 in the same period in 2004.

Experts say the epidemic is likely to get worse as two-thirds of those affected are aged between 15-24. Most of these were too old to have had the MMR jab, introduced in 1988.

Outbreaks have occurred across the country during the last year, mostly in secondary schools and universities, where large numbers of this age group are present.

The mumps virus is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing or direct contact between people.

There were 21 suspected cases of mumps reported at Kingston University during the past month. This follows an outbreak in King's College London in December.

Medics in Kingston are offering the MMR vaccination to all students and have been holding emergency clinics during the past few weeks.

Mumps is dangerous for adults as it can cause complications such as meningitis, sterility in men and deafness. …