Mumps and Flu
Campuses as hotbeds of Infection?
Just what makes a campus such a risky place, in terms of infectious diseases:
The characteristic feature of an infectious illness is that it is transmitted from a sufferer to someone else, another victim. The unique environment of a campus is perhaps the ideal hotbed for the incubation and transmission of infectious illnesses between sufferer and victim where we have:
- Densely populated spaces, with many young people crowded together at close quarters for long periods, some with social habits that result in swapping of respiratory secretions and body fluids
- A diverse grouping of multiple ethnicities, with differing host infections and differing levels of immunities with differing vaccination programmes in different countries
- Particular risk groups like Healthcare students and those students living in student residences
- And finally, as your mammy will tell you - going out at night without a coat (not sure about the evidence-base for this last one, but your mammy will swear by it)
There are some protective factors in the campus setting however:
- Healthy young individuals with often quite high vaccination rates
- Potential for a rapid and rational response from on-site student health services
With all of this in mind, and with a tip of the hat to rare diseases such as Ebola and Rabies, focus for a moment on the two infectious diseases that might well strike you down this academic year, just as you prepare for an important exam, or depart on that Erasmus trip, the twin evils of MUMPS and INFLUENZA.
Unfortunately, probably due to the MMR vaccine and Autism scare in the mid 90’s the uptake of MMR vaccine dropped to level that was inadequate to provide herd immunity, resulting in the re-emergence of Mumps in teenagers and young adults over the past 10-15 years.
There is already signs of increased Mumps activity on campuses in Ireland this academic year, with a number of cases emerging here in UCC. You can see what mumps can look like in an adult in an adult male in the Picture on this page.
A number of take home messages:
1. If you believe you might have Mumps, see a health professional. Do not attend classes, lectures, tutorials or labs. You may infect a number of other people if you are infectious.
2. If you are confirmed as having Mumps. remain away from campus and preferably remain isolated from others, for whatever period of time the healthcare professional has advised.
You are infectious usually from about four days before to five days after facial swelling (parotid gland swells on one or both sides of the face see picture in link above) Individuals are advised not to attend for 5 days after parotid swelling in view of the possibility of transmitting virus to non-immune individuals.
3. Ensure you have had at least 2 MMR doses in your lifetime. This is the most effective way to protect yourself. It is not 100% effective and you may still contract Mumps occasionally if you are fully vaccinated. The illness is usually milder in those who have been vaccinated. MMR vaccination is available in most Student Health Departments. Walk in and ask.
4. If you have been in close contact (e.g. flat-mate or tutorial room) with someone who has had Mumps, you can lessen the chances (or the severity) of contracting Mumps by getting an MMR vaccine, even after the contact has occurred.
We appear to have passed the peak of the 18 – 19 Influenza season, however there is still Influenza virus circulating in the community. That means there is still a risk and still time for you to protect yourself by availing of the influenza vaccine. The influenza vaccine is available in GP surgeries, some pharmacies and in most Student Health Departments. Walk in and ask - see below for details.
Flu Vaccination Programme 2018-19
The Student Health Department is providing 'Flu vaccine to any students in one of the at-risk groups*.
No appointment is required, we will provide it to you free of charge on a drop-in, walk-in basis.
As well as clinical healthcare students who are in contact with patients and clients, the vaccine is free to the following at-risk categories:
- have one of these long term health conditions:
- chronic heart disease (including a history of heart attack or unstable angina)
- chronic liver disease
- chronic renal failure
- chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system
- diabetes mellitus
- down syndrome
- morbid obesity i.e. body mass index (BMI) over 40
- immunosuppression due to disease or treatment (including treatment for cancer
- work in healthcare
- are a carer
- are 65 years of age and over
- are pregnant
- live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
- in regular contact with pigs or poultry
Just call into reception between 9:15am and 12:15pm and 2:15 pm an 4;15pm and tell our receptionsist that you would like to have a 'Flu vaccine.
NOTE: You should not get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic (anaphylaxis) reaction to a previous dose or any part of the vaccine.
Vaccination will re-scheduled if you have an acute illness with a temperature greater than 38°C