There has been an increase in mumps cases in Cork and Kerry in recent months, according to the Department of Public Health in the HSE, which has warned of more cases in the coming weeks after college students contracted the illness.
So far this year 68 cases of mumps have been reported in the Cork and Kerry area, with 10 of these cases notified in the last 10 days.
Nationally, there has been a large increase in mumps cases since 2018, with more than 2,000 cases so far this year.
Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection that usually affects children.
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.
Complications of mumps include painful swelling of the testicles in boys and men, swelling of the brain or viral meningitis, deafness and, in rare cases, infertility in men.
An email sent to Cork GPs on behalf of Dr Fiona Ryan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, warned that there has been an increase in the illness.
“There has been a large increase in mumps cases nationally since late 2018, with over 2,000 cases this year,” she said.
“We have recently begun to see an increase in Cork and Kerry.
So far this year 68 cases of mumps have been notified in this area, with 10 of these cases notified in the last 10 days,” she added.
“The majority of cases are in the 15-24 years group and many are in third level colleges.
“It is very likely that there will be additional cases over the coming weeks,” warned Dr Ryan.
She advised that, in this outbreak scenario, GPs may offer MMR catch-up vaccines to those without them and claim payment for it after.
The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is advised to prevent mumps.
In Ireland, the first dose is given at 12 months by GPs and the second dose is given to Junior Infants in school by HSE vaccination teams.
GPs have been asked to notify any suspected cases of measles and mumps to the Department of Public Health.