THE number of recorded cases of mumps has quadrupled in the last year to more than 5,000.

New figures from Public Health England show there were 5,042 cases of the disease in England in 2019 - four times the number in 2018 and the highest level in a decade.

It comes just weeks after the health agency recorded 183 reports of mumps in the North-East in the week ending January 19 - almost double the next highest number in England.

Many of these cases were as a result of outbreaks in universities and colleges. Both Sunderland and Newcastle universities have recently issued advice to students over the viral infection. Most cases were in young adults who did not have the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab.

Many of the cases were people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were children following a paper by doctor Andrew Wakefield linking the vaccine to autism.

The paper was discredited and Wakefield was struck off, but uptake of the vaccine dropped to about 80% in the late 1990s and a low of 79% in 2003.

Public Health England (PHE) is urging people to have both parts of the MMR vaccine, saying the full two doses are needed to maximise protection.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, of PHE, said it it never too late to catch up on immunisation.

"We encourage all students and young people who may have missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past to contact their GP practice and get up to date as soon as possible," she told the BBC.