Provisional data from Public Health England (PHE) show that there were 5042 laboratory-confirmed cases of mumps in England in 2019 – almost five times the number of cases (1066) in 2018. This is the highest number of cases since 2009.
PHE says the rise in cases looks set to continue in 2020, with 546 confirmed cases in January 2020 compared with 191 during the same period in 2019.
The steep rise in cases in 2019 has been largely driven by outbreaks in universities and colleges. Many of the cases in 2019 were seen in the so-called ‘Wakefield cohorts’ – young adults born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who missed out on the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine when they were children. These cohorts are now old enough to attend college and university and are likely to continue fuelling outbreaks into 2020, PHE says.
Commenting on the figures, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “The rise in mumps cases is alarming and yet another example of the long-term damage caused by anti-vax information.”
“Science proves that vaccines are the best form of defence against a host of potentially deadly diseases and are safer and more effective than ever before. Those who claim otherwise are risking people’s lives,” he said.
The Health Secretary said a vaccine strategy will soon be published and will outline the plan to increase uptake of MMR vaccine as well as limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and ensure every child receives two doses of their MMR vaccination.