At University you may be at an increased risk of contracting mumps. This is because you, or your fellow students, may not have had your MMR accinations as a child or may have only had one dose. The MMR vaccine provides protection against mumps, measles and rubella. Mumps is a highly infectious disease which spreads from person to person by coughs and sneezes. Although for most people mumps is a mild illness which lasts for about 7-10 days, it can lead to serious complications, including meningitis. In a small number of cases it can even lead to infertility. Universities are a common setting for mumps outbreaks. If you do get mumps you’ll be advised to limit your contact with other people until you’re no longer infectious (which could put a serious dampener on your social life). People with mumps are most infectious just before they become unwell and for 5-10 days afterwards. Make sure that you’re protected against mumps by checking that you’re up to date with your MMR before you start University, or when you register with the University’s medical practice or a local GP.
Meningococcal infection is a relatively rare but potentially fatal condition that can cause meningitis (infection and inflammation of the lining of the brain), blood poisoning (septicaemia), or both. The infection can be spread from person to person by prolonged close contact such as living in shared accommodation or kissing. It is important to keep a look out for common early symptoms, although they don’t all develop straight away. If you think you or someone you know may have meningitis you should seek medical help immediately. If you haven’t previously been vaccinated against Group C meningococcal infection, you should consult your GP about having the vaccine before arriving at University or as soon as possible afterwards. This is a very important vaccine. However it does not protect against other groups of meningococcus bacteria, such as Group B meningococcal infection, so it will still be necessary for you to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of the potentially deadly infections that these harmful bacteria can cause.
The MMR vaccine also protects against measles. If you haven’t had two doses of the MMR vaccine yet, you are also at risk of catching measles. Since the beginning of 2012 there has been an on-going outbreak of measles in Liverpool. Although measles is thought of as a childhood illness, it can affect people of all ages if they are not immune. Measles can be severe, and in the current outbreak around one in every five cases have required admission to hospital. Like mumps, measles can have severe complication like ear and chest infection, or even meningitis. Measles is one of the most highly infectious diseases and can be transmitted through small droplets when you sneeze or cough.
If you catch measles you are infectious from 4 days before and up to 4 days after the onset of the rash, and you will be asked to limit your contact with other people until you are no longer infections.
Find out more at: Health Protection Agency www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england.