Mumps epidemic hits Dutch Bible belt
Monday 21 April 2008
A mumps epidemic has broken out in the Netherlands for the first time in 20 years. The outbreak is concentrated in the Bible belt between Zeeland and the Veluwe heathlands, the public health institute (RIVM) confirmed.
Many people in the affected area are orthodox Protestants who refuse to have their children vaccinated against mumps and other diseases on religious grounds.
Labour MP Khadija Arib said in a radio programme at the weekend that she will ask the health minister to investigate the possibility of making vaccinations compulsory.
Mumps have been diagnosed in over 60 blood samples over the past few months but because a legal obligation to report incidences will not come into effect until January next year, the extent of the epidemic is unknown, says news agency ANP.
The Bible belt was also hit by polio and measles epidemics in the 1990s.
The RIVM says mumps (fever and swollen neck glands) is not normally dangerous and complications such as meningitis are rare.