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Spread of mumps at university

As many as 35 students at a Kent university campus have gone down with suspected mumps, it's been revealed.

The Health Protection Agency confirmed the first cases appeared at the University of Kent's Canterbury campus two weeks ago.

Symptoms of mumps include painful swellings at the side of the face, headaches, joint pain and a high temperature.

The disease is spread in the same way as colds and flu inside infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and passed into the mouth or nose.

Sheena Fenn, senior specialist nurse manager at Kent Health Protection Unit, said: "Mumps is moderately infectious. If someone is coughing and spluttering, droplets can easily land on someone else and then if they touch their nose or face, it can spread quickly."

All the students have undergone saliva tests to confirm if they definitely have the disease and the results are expected to come through shortly.Sheena Fenn HPA 

A person is most contagious one to two days before the onset of symptoms, and for four days afterwards. This time is when it is most important to try to prevent spreading the infection to others, especially teenagers and young adults who have not been vaccinated.

Ms Fenn, pictured left, said: "If you've had two doses of the MMR vaccine that's fine but if you haven't then you should try and get vaccinated straight away. If you're already infected, it won't stop you from getting the disease but you won't get it in such a severe form."

There are concerns the latest outbreak might in part be down to parents stopping their children from having the jab in the late 1990s. It was after a report in 1998 suggested there might be a link between the vaccine and autism.

Letters and an information leaflet have now been sent to the campus and the vaccine will be available at the University medical centre.

Have you been affected? Do you know a student with mumps? Join the debate below.

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