THE family of a teenage girl who died suddenly of complications from mumps in Majorca have recalled the moment her eyes rolled back and she stopped breathing.
Molly Bower, 17, complained of a swollen face soon after arriving on holiday with her aunt and uncle – and less than 24 hours after seeing a hotel doctor she was dead.
Molly, from Sherburn Hill, County Durham, is feared to have caught the virus despite being immunised as a child.
She arrived in the resort of Alcudia on October 7 and said she thought the painful swelling on the side of her face could be an abscess.
But family friends looked up symptoms online and suspected the mumps.
Molly followed advice to take ibuprofen but began to vomit and became delirious over the next few days.
On Friday an in-house doctor at their hotel Club Mac Alcudia diagnosed mumps and prescribed more painkillers, but hours later she was unconscious.
Aunt Dominique Bower told the Daily Mail: "During the Thursday evening she was delirious. She could not eat and kept on asking what we were saying. She would say that she could not hear us and complained that she was aching all over her body.
"The resort doctor touched her neck and immediately he said 'mumps'. He suggested paracetamol and ibuprofen every six hours.
"Within a few seconds of taking it, Molly drifted off to sleep. We later tried to wake her for a shower, we couldn’t get her to walk, it was like carrying a dead weight.
"I left the room for five minutes afterwards to get her more clothes and the next thing I knew I heard screaming [from a family friend].
"Molly’s eyes had rolled into the back of her head and she had stopped breathing."
Doctors tried to save her for two hours. A post-mortem is expected to confirm the virus.
Mumps: once-common killer now in decline
Mumps is a contagious viral infection that is spread by coughs and sneezes like the flu.
Usually it causes acute parotitis – swelling of the saliva glands under each ear – leading to the classic "hamster face" look.
Other symptoms include headache, fever, joint pain and loss of appetite.
Symptoms develop around 17 days after infection, and last around a week.
There is no treatment besides rest and painkillers.
Rarely, mumps causes orchitis (swelling of the testes or ovaries), meningitis or pneumonia.
Complications can include deafness, fertility problems, and occasionally death from encaphalitis – swelling of the brain.
It was once a common childhood disease, and there were epidemics among army recruits.
Since the 1960s there has been a steep drop in cases thanks to immunisation.
Most cases in the UK are among young adults who did not receive the MMR jab as a child.
A fall in vaccination rates blamed on a bogus scare has led to fears the virus will spread again along with measles.
Nearly 500 people have pledged cash to a GoFundMe page:, raising almost £10,000 to get her body home and pay for funeral.
Molly’s mother Danielle Bower said last night. "She was a fit and healthy young woman.
"Molly had such a dry sense of humour and was a really strong girl. She was an honest and loyal person with good manners.
"She loved to go out and socialise. She was really bubbly and just so beautiful."
Molly's stunned friends also paid tribute to her online.
Melissa Clarke said on Facebook: "RIP Molly Patterson you absolute beautiful soul!
"Knew you since been a little nipper and you've always had a heart of gold girl…
"So sad knowing you're gone but you will never be forgotten! You don't realise how loved you actually are, everyone is well and truly devastated.
"Have not stopped thinking about this all night god bless you, sleep tight angel forever in our hearts thinking of all family and friends at such a sad time."
Emma French wrote: "This is such heartbreaking news.
"Molly was a lovely girl with a huge heart and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to know her and see her grow into the young lady she was.
"Let's get her home and give her the send off she deserves."
Tamzin Burnham added: "You were a fabulous friend and I will cherish our memories. I'm heartbroken."
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "Our staff are supporting the family of a British child following her death in Spain, and are in contact with the Spanish authorities.
"Our sympathies are with the family at this difficult time."
Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection that normally passes in two weeks with rest.
It causes characteristic swelling of the jaw, plus general flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever and joint pain.
But rarely is can trigger meningitis and swelling of other organs, according to the NHS.
Most cases are in young adults who have not had the MMR jab. Two doses of the vaccine give 88 per cent immunity to mumps, although not complete protection.
Molly's family said she was immunised as a child.
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