Large Rise in Mumps Cases in England During 2020

Priscilla Lynch 

June 02, 2020

There were 3088 laboratory-confirmed mumps infections in England between January 2020 and March 2020 compared with 1315 in the period between October 2019 and December 2019 and 5042 cases for the entire year, the latest Public Health England (PHE) data show.

Mumps activity in 2019 was the highest observed in a decade in England, and the number of laboratory-confirmed cases remained very high in the first quarter of 2020 leading to PHE declaring a National Mumps Incident.

Mumps cases were reported in all regions of England between January 2020 and March 2020, predominantly in young adults aged 15-34 years (2533/3088; 82%) and driven by outbreaks linked to universities and colleges. Almost two thirds (1989/3088; 64%) of the cases in this quarter were unvaccinated.

In the first quarter of 2020, some of the Health Protection Teams (HPTs) experiencing the highest mumps activity did not have the capacity to send out oral fluid kits (OFKs) to all suspected mumps cases, reported PHE. In addition, from March 2020, the COVID-19 response may also have affected the ability of some HPTs to send out mumps OFKs. Therefore, the total number of laboratory-confirmed mumps cases in the first quarter of 2020 is likely to be an underestimate.

Meanwhile, in England, 79 new measles infections were confirmed in the first three months of 2020 compared with 86 in the last quarter of 2019, PHE data show. Most cases were reported in January 2020 (47 cases) and February 2020 (23 cases), with half of all cases in London.

There were no new cases of rubella reported in the period.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of social distancing measures and lockdown across the UK, including school and university closures from 23 March 2020 has impacted both the routine surveillance and epidemiology of measles, mumps and rubella in a number of ways, PHE noted.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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