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A brief introduction to Mumps !!

You may have or haven’t experienced the mumps disease. If you haven’t, you’re really lucky. But just imagine waking up one day to see a slight swelling around your neck, this wouldn’t bother you much. Imagine waking up the next day to see an enormous lump around your neck, now that would be scary.

But worry not mumps is a disease that can be cured with the help of MMR vaccinations. Now, this shouldn’t give you a sigh of relief to stop reading further.  You ought to know a few basic things about the Mumps disease and the reasons behind how it is caused. Read below to find out what really is mumps, the symptoms, the ways of preventing it and the vaccination that provides immunity against the disease. 

What is mumps?

Mumps is caused by a virus, more specifically a type of rubulavirus in the paramyxovirus family.

Long ago before the vaccine was introduced in the united states, almost every child would become infected. While the cases have reduced by more than 99 %  since then, occasionally outbreaks still do occur. 

The Symptoms of Mumps!!

These are the following symptoms that can be seen in an individual affected with mumps.

  • The typical symptoms seen in an individual may be swollen salivary glands.
  • This could be followed by puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw that can make it difficult to eat food.
  • The individual may also be prone to other problems like fever, fatigue and head and muscle aches.
  • Some of these problems can last from seven to ten days.
  •  Its possible that nearly 40 % of those infected might only have mild symptoms and sometimes might not even realize that they have the disease at all. 
  • However mild the disease may be, the individuals may still be capable of spreading the virus.

The infection and the occurrence of the symptoms 

  • Symptoms can appear between 12 and 25 days after the initial infection. 
  •  But in most cases, people begin experiencing them 16-18 days after they are infected.

Are mumps serious!!

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Mumps are serious!!

While most people recover completely in a few weeks, sometimes serious complications of mumps can occur, especially if the individuals affected by mumps are adults.

  • Men and adolescent boys can develop mumps infections of the testicles that result in testicular pain and can also cause swelling which can further lead to sterility.
  • One inflammation linked with the disease includes meningitis, which affects the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord.
  • Another inflammation of the disease includes encephalitis which affects the brain itself.
  • Though these conditions can be serious enough to lead to permanent hearing loss, disability or even death, these cases are usually very rare.

How do mumps spread?

The virus responsible for causing mumps is spread in the saliva or mucus of the infected. This commonly occurs through coughing, sneezing or talking. 

However, it can also occur when people deal in exchanging or sharing items like drinking glasses that come into contact with saliva.

Individuals affected with mumps are usually contagious from two to five days right before the symptoms begin which usually happens about five days later.

Can Mumps be prevented !!

Any individual affected with mumps should be immunized with the MMR vaccine, which also protects the person not only against mumps but can also provide further immunity against other diseases like measles and rubella.

Several studies have proved time and again that vaccines including the one for mumps are safe and are not linked with autism. The Center for Disease control and prevention recommend that children get two doses of MMR vaccine, once when they are between 12 and 15 months old and again at a later period when they are four to six years older. Older children, adolescent, and adults born after 1956 who haven’t yet received the full series as a child should be vaccinated unless they have mumps condition like pregnancy or a weakened immune system that prevents it.

Individuals who are at an increased risk of catching the disease include international travelers, health care workers, and college students should receive not one but two doses of the vaccine if they are not known to be otherwise immune. 

Mumps vaccine coverage should be improved !!

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Mumps vaccine coverage should be improved !!

In a new study, it was found that mumps was found to be high in the United States and that mumps vaccine coverage must be maintained and improved to prevent future outbreaks. 

Mumps vaccination has been recommended in the US and is given as part of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella ) vaccine. Presently two doses are the standard recommendation for children. 

During the year 2000, the annual number of reported US mumps cases had decreased to less than 500. But in 2006, the country’s largest mumps outbreak in 20 years began on certain college campuses in Iowa and resulted in more than 6000 cases. 

The study!!

A study was conducted, where the researchers obtained blood samples from 6- to 49-year-old-participants in a nationwide health survey and tested the samples for antibodies to mumps. The samples were tested and the survey data were collected during 1999-2004 from more than 15,000 people.

The results were the following - 

  • Study participants old enough to have had mumps as children (born between 19498 and 1966), 92-93 % had mumps antibodies. 
  • Individuals likely to have been vaccinated (those born after 1976), 90 % had mumps antibodies. 
  • Those born during 1967 to 1976, the percentage of those with antibodies was even lower 85 to 86 %. 

While the percentage of individuals with mumps antibodies was on the lower end of what is considered necessary for herd immunity, researchers concluded that the incidence of mumps had declined by 96 % or more since the pre-vaccine era. Researchers believe that in order to maintain this success against this serious viral infection, it is crucial to maintain or preferably improve vaccine coverage to prevent or control future outbreaks.

However, researchers fear that as time passes, the immunity to mumps may diminish. This problem may still occur even upon administering a second dose of the MMR vaccine(which was recommended in 1989, for children entering school. 

A New Solution !!

To ensure individual lifelong immunity and appropriate levels of herd immunity, researchers suggested the following solutions

  • A third dose may be required 
  • A second should be delayed until later in adolescence

Facts about Mumps !!

  • Mumps is a viral illness found in several parts of the world and can cause serious complications which include deafness, sterility, meningitis, and encephalitis.
  • The number of mumps cases has decreased by 96 % or more since the pre-vaccine area. 
  • Around 90 % of the individuals in the United States overall population has immunity to mumps, but this may not be high enough to prevent future outbreaks. 
  • Public health experts stress that immunization is crucial for protecting children and adults against mumps.

The study was carried out by Preeta K. Kutty, MD, MPH and other researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).