There has been an outbreak of mumps among medic students over the last week, rendering several students confined to their homes while they wait for the infection to pass.

The NHS recommendation for isolation is five days, by which time infectivity is largely reduced as mumps is a ‘self-limiting’ infection – meaning that recovering amounts to symptomatic treatment and rest.

The infection reportedly began within the medics’ football team, which then spread during Sports Night last Wednesday. An anonymous source also claimed that several players won a match against UCL while showing symptoms of the infection, and that the infection was then passed on to UCL footballers – this is currently unconfirmed.

All medics are required to receive double doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, prior to clinical contact with any patient. However, the vaccine is only 88% effective according to research from the US’ Centre for Disease Control.

Though there was concern about missed time on ‘firms’, or clinical placements, for the affected students, most firms are long-term enough that any missed time can be made up – especially accounting for the early starts, late finishes, and night shifts that medics are faced with.

An email sent from the medicine Faculty Education Office stressed to medics the importance of notifying Occupational Health as soon as symptoms develop and adhering to the recommended recovery period of five days – in other words, not to perform any clinical duties. They must be cleared by Occupational Health before being allowed to resume those duties. Fortunately, the disease is generally only infectious once general symptoms of malaise become apparent, rather than prior.

Almost all patients seen by medics are in hospital, and are therefore under 247 monitoring. The risk to them is therefore minimised – especially as medics are keenly aware of good health and safety procedures. Ben Russell, the ICSMSU President, clarified:

“There is always the risk of spreading any normal infection from person-to-person anyway as we are working with many, many patients in a close environment, but this is counteracted to the highest possible degree by the strict procedures and regulations which are in place across the healthcare professions. These are constantly reviewed and taught to medical students as well as staff.”

Medics have taken the outbreak with good humour – with the netball team setting up a ‘biohazard zone’ in Reynolds during this week’s Sports Night.