Nottingham students weigh in on mumps outbreak

In March, news of a mumps outbreak in two Nottingham universities broke. Public Health England confirmed 40 cases of mumps, along with over 220 suspected cases in the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University.

What is mumps? 

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that can cause swelling of the parotid glands in the face and under the ears. The infection used to be common in children before the introduction of the MMR vaccine and is spread in the same way as colds and flu – through infected drops of saliva which can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose.

What are the symptoms?

Aside from swelling, symptoms of mumps also include headaches, joint pain, high temperature, feeling sick, loss of appetite and tiredness.

According to the NHS, a person is most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop, and for a few days after.

How did the universities handle the situation?

It’s understood that students received emails from their respective university detailing the situation and offering advice if they suspected they were experiencing any symptoms of the infection.

WNOL has seen a copy of the email received by students at Nottingham Trent University. The email provides information on mumps, the symptoms, how it spreads, when to see a GP and how the infection is diagnosed. Students were also urged to ensure that they were vaccinated against the infection, with the MMR jab. There is a current debate about whether universities should make vaccinations compulsory, however, some disagree with the idea. 

What do students now think about the situation?

One Nottingham Trent University student said ‘Basically there was a rumour about it at first and then people started not coming to [netball] training sessions because they were ill. Then a girl had a mask over her face and she told us she had mumps and it was super contagious and then, the following day, we had an email from uni telling us it was going around and symptoms and to wash our hands but they didn’t tell us that it was a new strain of it that the vaccine didn’t stop so basically everyone was at risk and it was quite serious. Everyone took it as a joke really but loads of people I knew got it’.

Another student said ‘I remember receiving a letter about mumps being spotted and reminding students to be up to date with vaccinations when I was living in student accommodation in third year. This time I heard about it through word of mouth. I don’t think the uni handled it very well – I know mumps can cause a lot more trouble to adults compared to children, kind of like chicken pox so I feel as though there should be more raising awareness campaigns for further learning grounds especially since it’s a gathering of adults’.

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