Over 200 mumps cases reported in Ireland last week, HSE says

Outbreak of viral infection began in 2018 with teens and young adults hardest hit

A large mumps outbreak in Ireland is persisting with 213 new cases reported last week, according to the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Most cases of the acute viral infecton have been recorded among teenagers and young adults.

This national outbreak started in 2018, spread to all areas of the country last year and is continuing.

Since mid-January cases have been occurring at a far higher rate than at any time last year, which was the biggest outbreak in a decade.


The worst-affected part of the State is the greater Dublin area where there has seen 498 cases this year, followed by the Southern Health Board area with 491 cases. There has been 711 cases among 20 to 24-year-olds, while in the 15 to 19 age category 585 people have got the infection.

Mumps is spread from person to person and symptoms include fever; headache, tiredness and swollen, tender salivary glands. It often gives the appearance of swollen cheeks or jaw.

“If you have mumps symptoms you should stay at home, not go to school or work and phone your GP and explain that you may have mumps. The best protection against mumps is to be fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine,” the HPSC added.

Anyone aged between 11 and 30 years, who have not had two doses of vaccine, can get it for free.

There has been a similar outbreak in the UK where almost half of the laboratory-confirmed cases reported last year were in unvaccinated people, with the highest incidence rates seen among those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were younger. There is a similar profile in Ireland.

These cohorts are now old enough to attend college and university and are likely to continue fuelling the epidemic during this year, public health specialists have predicted.

Further reading: Dr Muiris Houston: Why infectious diseases are rising worldwide

This article was edited on May 18th, 2020

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times