Fear of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine may be playing a role in a mumps epidemic in the United Kingdom, reports the News-Telegraph. The majority of those coming down with the disease are young adults who were born before England required the mumps vaccine.
But immunization rates in the UK may be below 80 percent for children born since 1995, a result of fear among parents who believe that the MMR vaccinations contributed to rising rates of autism. That link has not been proven, but a mercury-based sterilizing agent called thimerosal was being used in MMR vaccines.
By school age, American children are more likely to get their MMR shots, DadTalk reported last year. In some parts of London, as few as 60 percent of 2-year-olds have been vaccinated.
About 28,500 cases of mumps were reported in Britain during the first four months of 2005, marking an 18-fold increase in reported cases. Researchers are also seeing an uptick in young children developing the disease.
While mumps, which is highly contagious, is not a particularly deadly viral infection, it can cause testicular swelling in males that occasionally results in sterility, reports the Scotsman. The disease is well-known because it causes intense swelling of glands between the ear and jaw in most victims, reports the UK Independent.
“Complications may require treatment in the hospital,” reports WebMD. “Medications to relieve pain associated with orchitis, meningitis, pancreatitis, and other complications may be given.” Symptoms usually last 10 days.