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Health and Wellbeing

Mumps: protect yourself and others

By Adrian 14 Feb 2020

England is seeing a significant increase in cases of mumps, with many of the cases occurring in university students.

We're recommending that you check your immunisation history and, if you haven't had two doses of the MMR vaccine, arrange to be immunised as soon as possible by speaking with your GP.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection, most recognisable by the painful swellings in the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands). Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands. Most people recover without any special treatment, but in rare cases, there can be serious complications such as inflammation of the testicles in males, meningitis and deafness.

Learn more about mumps on the NHS website.



Protecting yourself against mumps

Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu: through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose. So regular hand hygiene can help protect you from the infection. You should also check that you have had two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.

If you have not had two doses of the MMR vaccine

Make an appointment to see your GP and ask them for the vaccine.

If you don't know if you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine

Check with your parents, or with your family doctor back home. If you're still not sure, make an appointment to see your GP and ask them for the vaccine.

If you think you might have mumps

Call the NHS free of charge from any UK phone on 111.

If you live in our intercollegiate halls, please let us know that you might have mumps at residential.life@london.ac.uk.

Preventing the spread of infection

If you have mumps, you should take some simple actions so that you don't pass on the illness to others.

You would be most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop and for a few days afterwards. During this time, it's important to prevent the infection spreading, by:

  • regularly washing your hands with soap and water;
  • using and disposing of tissues when you sneeze; and
  • avoiding contact with other people until five days after the facial swelling appears (if you're in a catered intercollegiate hall, we will bring food to your room).

Adrian is a medical doctor and a Member of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine; Student Health & Wellbeing Manager at the University of London; and Warden of Connaught Hall. He is a Mental Health First Aid instructor and a trainer for Student Minds. Adrian is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine; a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA); a Member of the Association of University Administrators; and an Associate Member of the Academy of Medical Educators. He is passionate about advancing equality, diversity, and inclusion. Adrian's interests include fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and insight meditation, medical education, social psychology, and human factors / crisis resource management.
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