A SURGE in cases of mumps among young Scots appears to have been curtailed as a side effect of lockdown measures aimed at cutting Covid rates.

Figures published today reveal that 853 cases of the contagious viral infection were detected between January and the end of March this year - more than the 784 recorded in the whole of 2019.

However, during the three months from April to June - during peak lockdown - just ten case of mumps were identified.

Public Health Scotland said the sharp reduction was "most likely to be the result of the social distancing measures implemented in response to the Covid-19 pandemic".

It added: "This is likely to have also interrupted the transmission of mumps, as well as reducing attendance at primary care to diagnose."

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In January alone, there were nearly 350 cases of mumps identified in Scotland - the largest monthly tally seen in any year from 2015 onwards - with unusually high levels also recorded in December and February.

HeraldScotland: Source: PHSSource: PHS

There was a significant drop in March, however, as awareness of the coronavirus risk grew, with schools, universities and leisure venues closing, offices switching to home-working, and the public encouraged to avoid crowded places.

The last major outbreak of mumps in Scotland occurred between 2004 and 2005, when there were roughly 2000-2500 cases annually.

The PHS report notes that the incidence of mumps "continues to be higher in individuals aged 17 to 34 years, compared to those in the younger and older age groups".

Incidence was highest in the 17 to 20 age group (137 cases per 100,000 population), followed by those aged 21 to 24 years (88 cases per 100,000 population).

HeraldScotland: Source: PHSSource: PHS

This generation is most likely to have been affected by a drop in uptake of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) as children following the publication of the now discredited Lancet paper which linked the vaccine to autism.

The PHS report states: "Although the vaccination status of cases is not routinely collected, this is consistent with the age groups which are likely to be under-immunised with a mumps-containing vaccine, or for whom there is waning immunity."

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Mumps is typically characterised by painful swelling around the side of the face, under the ears.

Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain, and fever.

It is spread in the same way as colds and flu - through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces.

Although serious complications are rare, mumps can lead to hearing loss, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), or meningitis if the virus spreads to the outer tissue that protects the brain.

It can also cause swelling of the testicles or ovaries in teenagers and adults, and, in very rare cases, mumps can be fatal.

The PHS report also reveals that there have been no known cases of measles in Scotland during the first three months of 2020.

HeraldScotland: Source: PHSSource: PHS

Between 2015 and 2019, Scotland averaged just 10 cases per year - mostly among people aged 22-27 - in spite of larger outbreaks occurring elsewhere in the UK and Europe.

Between March 2019 and February 2020, there were more than 2,400 cases of measles in France and 1,353 in Italy.

Of the 18 cases of measles in Scotland last year, the majority had been contracted elsewhere in the UK or imported from Europe, said PHS.

Uptake of the MMR vaccine, although falling after the Lancet paper, never dipped as low in Scotland as in other parts of the UK, Europe or United States.