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Low mumps immunity in 17-20s

More than a quarter of 17- to 20-year-olds in the UK could be at risk of catching mumps, according to researchers who studied an outbreak among trainees at an RAF base.

But it is too late to start a mass immunisation campaign in this age group, Government vaccine policy advisers have claimed.

A total of 273 RAF personnel were interviewed and sampled following eight cases of acute mumps infection at an RAF station in South Wales between January and April this year. Of those, 73 had no evidence of immunity to mumps on serum IgG testing.

A report presented to a Health Protection Agency conference in Glasgow last week said the trainees represented a sample of the general UK population in the 17-20 age group.

But Professor Keith Cart-wright, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said mumps was 'a relatively mild infection' and any mass catch-up cam- paign would have been needed to be done earlier when the cohort was still at school.

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