Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

University hit by mumps outbreak

MMR vaccine (generic)
The MMR jab protects against measles, mumps and rubella

Students at Lancaster University are being offered the MMR vaccine after an outbreak of mumps on campus.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there had been eight cases of mumps among the student population in the last week.

A total of 39 cases have been reported across Lancashire in the last three weeks, 11 of them in Lancaster.

Mumps is a viral illness characterised by swollen glands, fever, malaise, muscle pain and loss of appetite.

Mumps cannot be treated and can lead to complications including viral meningitis and hearing.

HPA officials said the majority of recent cases in Lancashire were being reported by people aged between 17 and 25.

Students vulnerable

Clinics are being arranged on campus for students who have not had two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Kate Brierley, of the Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit, said: "This outbreak seems to be focused on Lancaster University.

"However there has been a small increase in other mumps cases in North Lancashire.

"People under 25 years of age who missed out two doses of MMR vaccine are particularly vulnerable to mumps."

Ms Brierley said anyone with symptoms should seek advice from their doctor or NHS Direct.

Students with mumps at the university are understood to be recovering well without serious complications, a spokesman for the HPA said.

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