An outbreak of mumps in the North-West has led doctors to warn parents to keep children with the condition at home.

The HSE has confirmed that there have been 13 confirmed cases of Mumps in the North West since the start of March.

These have been mainly in the South Donegal and Sligo town area. The number of cases has decreased somewhat in the past week.

The outbreak follows a separate outbreak of Measles in Donegal in recent weeks.

A spokesperson for the HSE said all children and young adults should have two MMR doses which protects against Mumps, Measles and Rubella. Protection for Rubella is important for women in the childbearing years.

Dr Anthony Breslin said “The recent cases of Measles and Mumps in the North West demonstrate what can happen when MMR vaccine rates fall”.

Mumps is an acute viral infection that is spread from person to person. It is a potentially serious disease for children and young adults and is very common in young children who are not vaccinated against it.

Mumps usually occurs in school-aged children, teenagers or young adults, although older people may also contract the disease.

Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, malaise and swollen, tender salivary glands (usually the parotid gland which is located just below the front of the ear). Mumps often gives the appearance of swollen cheeks or jaw. Symptoms of mumps typically begin to appear 14 to 25 days (usually 15-18 days) after exposure.

Approximately 20% of infected individuals will have no symptoms. Some may have only non-specific or primarily respiratory symptoms (particularly in children <5 years of age). Symptoms tend to decrease after one week and have usually resolved after 10 days. There is no specific treatment for mumps apart from relieving the symptoms.

Mumps is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing and by direct contact with saliva or discharges from the nose and throat of infected individuals.

People infected with mumps may spread the infection to others, even when they do not have any symptoms. People with mumps are most infectious from 2 days before to 5 days after onset of symptoms.

Complications of mumps may occur and can include testicular inflammation, ovarian inflammation, meningitis, pancreatitis and rarely encephalitis (brain inflammation) or deafness. Although testicular inflammation occurs in up to 40% of postpubertal males, fortunately sterility is rare.

Anyone who develops mumps should stay at home for the five days after disease onset to prevent spreading the infection to others. If your child develops the symptoms of mumps please contact your GP (please ring your GP first).

Further information on Mumps can be found on the HSE Website at the link below.