A MUMPS outbreak in the Lothians has spread into schools and the NHS is warning all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against the virus.

Professor Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, said: “We are currently seeing a higher than usual level of mumps in Lothian, mostly in young adults but some school pupils.

“The most effective strategy for preventing the transmission of mumps is vaccination with the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, with two doses required.

“We promote and run national immunisation programmes to encourage vaccination and increase immunity against preventable infections like mumps.

“We would encourage young people who have not received two doses of MMR to contact their GP practice.”

The message was sent to East Lothian Council’s education department, which passed the information on to the county’s schools.

Parents with children at schools in East Lothian were then sent a letter warning them of the outbreak.

Letters were also sent to schools in Edinburgh, West Lothian and Midlothian.

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “Following reports of higher-than-usual numbers of mumps cases in the Lothians area, we were asked to circulate a letter from NHS Lothian to all of our schools to be shared with their communities.

“We would encourage all families to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of mumps and follow the medical advice, in particular that children should not attend school until they are recovered and at least five days after any facial swelling began.”

Mumps is a contagious non-serious viral infection that mostly affects young adults.

It is most recognisable by swelling of the salivary glands in the side of the face under the ears.

Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain and high temperature.

There is no cure for mumps but treatment to relieve symptoms includes painkillers and applying a warm or cool compress; the infection should pass in a week or two.

It can be spread in the same way as colds and flu, with the best method of prevention being the MMR vaccine.