Cork people who suspect they may have the mumps have been urged to stay home and contact their GP by phone, amid fears Cork is in the midst of a mumps outbreak.
GPs in Cork have reported seeing an increase in mumps, a highly contagious viral infection that usually affects children, recently while Cork Institute of Technology has warned of a spate of mumps cases in recent days.
While mumps does not usually cause any long-term problems in children, it can lead to a higher risk of developing complications when contracted by teenagers and adults.
Dr Chris Luke, consultant in emergency medicine and adjunct senior lecturer in public health at University College Cork (UCC), advised those who believe they may have the mumps to avoid GP surgeries and crowded hospitals.
“The key message would be that all infectious diseases require more or less the same initial treatment - triage process and vigilance with personal protective measures by the staff in our emergency departments,” he explained.
“Ideally, affected patients should not present to the emergency department but should talk to their GPs first by phone.
“Most of these illnesses can be managed at home unless they have severe abdominal pain or testicular pain, suggesting what is called a mumps ‘orchitis’.
“That is relatively unusual but serious and testicular pain needs specialist assessment.
“The other important message is that it's never too late to get a mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine.” In an email sent to students on Monday, Dr Dan Collins, Academic Administration & Student Affairs Manager at CIT, said: “A number of confirmed cases of Mumps have been reported in Cork and more specifically, within the Institute.
In a statement to The Echo, Dr Collins added: “CIT are proactively creating awareness amongst our students and staff with this email while at the same time protecting the confidentiality and right to privacy of those affected.”
Speaking to The Echo about the noted increase in mumps cases in Cork and across Ireland in recent months, Dr Nick Flynn of Union Quay and MyCorkGP.ie said: “We are in the middle of a significant outbreak in Cork at the moment.
“I am diagnosing on average three patients per week for the last four weeks."
Dr Flynn stressed the fact that mumps is a vaccine preventable disease and he encouraged anyone between the ages of 10 and 30 to avail of the free MMR booster through their GP.
A recent study carried out by the HSE’s Mumps Outbreak Control Team found that almost 4,000 cases of mumps have been reported in Ireland over the past 18 months or so, mainly among young people.
Almost 30 cases of mumps were reported in Cork in the first two weeks of this year alone compared to the same period in 2019, when around 12 cases were reported throughout Ireland.