THE number of people being diagnosed with mumps across the region has more than quadrupled in a year, figures reveal.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said a total of 133 cases of mumps were diagnosed in the North East between April and June, with more than half of these cases being reported in the 14 to 24 age group.
Health bosses said the increase is partly down to people not having a double dose of the MMR vaccine and are today urging teenagers and young adults to protect themselves.
Julia Waller, immunisation lead for the HPA in the North East, said: “We have seen a sharp rise in mumps cases over recent years and teenagers and young adults who have not had two doses of MMR vaccine are particularly vulnerable.
“While most people recover from mumps within a week, it can still be a very unpleasant disease.
“Occasionally, some people may develop complications that can include inflammation of the pancreas, viral meningitis, inflamed and swollen testicles in men and ovaries in women.
“There is no treatment for mumps but it can be prevented by the safe and highly effective MMR vaccine.
“It’s vital that children receive both doses of the vaccine, and ahead of returning to school or university after the holidays, we are urging parents to ensure their children have received the two doses, which are required to ensure the best protection.”
The latest data also shows a national increase in measles cases.
Almost twice as many confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales have been reported in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
A total of 1,086 cases were reported in 2011, up from 380 in 2010.
“We aren’t yet seeing the same rise in cases of measles in the North East as many other parts of the country are reporting,” Julia said. “But this does not mean that people in the region are immune to the disease.
“Measles is potentially a serious illness which on rare occasions can be fatal.
“It is highly infectious and spreads very easily particularly in schools, colleges and universities.
“This is why it’s crucial that children and young adults are fully immunised with two doses of MMR.”
The latest published data on the uptake of both doses of the MMR vaccination in the North East is 96 per cent for the first dose and 91 per cent for the second dose.
Julia added: “We would urge everyone to consult their family doctors about having two doses of MMR vaccine if they are currently unprotected.
“It’s not just students, any unvaccinated teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable and should seek an appointment with their GPs.”
Anyone who is concerned about mumps or measles should contact their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.