Health authorities have warned students in the Dublin areas to get vaccinated if they have not been immunised with the MMR vaccine in response to an outbreak of mumps.
Trinity College Dublin has had a number of cases confirmed over the past week or so and has warned anyone who suspects they have the virus to stay away from university for five days.
In addition, a Leinster Senior Schools' Cup quarter-final rugby match between Blackrock College and St Michael's College – due to have been played on Sunday – was cancelled on Friday in response to a suspected outbreak.
Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection that usually affects children and young people with symptoms that include fever, headache and swelling of the cheek and jaw.
While for most people it is a minor illness, it can have severe complications for some including swelling of the brain and deafness.
In a letter to Trinity staff and students, Dr Mary Conlon, senior medical officer at the HSE, confirmed that cases have been diagnosed at the university.
She said if anyone has not had mumps and has not received two doses of the MMR vaccine, it is “quite likely you will get mumps”.
"People are infectious for up to seven days before the cheek swelling appears and remain highly infectious for five days after symtoms develop," Dr Conlone wrote.
“If you have received two doses of the MMR vaccine or have had mumps, there is no need for concern. If you have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine and have not had mumps, then you should attend the student health service or your family doctor for vaccination.
“The vaccine will not protect you if you have been exposed this time, but it will protect you from future exponsure”.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the incidence of mumps, particularly among teenagers and young adults.
Last year there were almost 600 mumps alerts made to the HSE, according to provisional data.
An escalation in the number of cases was first noted in August last year and has continued into this year, with about 275 alerts so far. The HSE says cases have been reported from across all parts of the country.