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Betablockers get a clean bill of health in elderly

The UK is being buffeted by outbreaks of mumps, with new figures showing the number of cases has doubled in a year and increased five-fold since 1998.

The number of confirmed cases hit 7,500 by the end of November

as the infection spread through poorly immunised student populations.

Scottish officials have taken the step of offering the MMR vaccine to all 18- to 25-year-olds and the Health Protection Agency for England and Wales is working closely with universities to warn students of the dangers of mumps, which is associated with high complication rates in adults. In Scotland, there has been a 30-fold increase in cases of mumps since 1998, with 4,000 cases of mumps confirmed up until November last year.

The Midlands, another badly affected area, saw almost five times as many cases in 2004 as in 2003. Seven out of 10 cases were in 15- to 25-year-olds.

And an outbreak in Sandbach, Cheshire, which started among

sixth-form students in November, has caused local public health

officials to urge all teenagers to seek vaccination.

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