With recent cases of mumps occurring in Indiana to dozens of college students starting in February, the importance of vaccination is once again evident. With Spring break heading into summer vacation soon, a preventable illness can allow for maximum enjoyment just by ensuring everyone in your family is up to date on vaccinations. According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), here are the basics of mumps:
• Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands.
• The most common symptoms include: fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (parotitis).
• Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.
• Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease.
• Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks.
Most mumps cases are not serious. It can, however, cause inflammation of the central nervous system, but the result is viral meningitis, which is also usually not serious.
ODH adds, “Males who are past puberty may experience orchitis, or testicular inflammation. It causes pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting and fever. The affected area may remain tender for weeks. Approximately half of patients with orchitis experience some atrophy of the testicles, but they rarely lose the ability to produce sperm. Some women may experience inflammation of the ovaries or breasts from mumps.”
In approximately one in 20,000 who develops mumps, deafness in one or both ears can occur.
Mumps is spread by mouth saliva or mucus or an infected person’s nose or throat. Spreading the disease happens when they talk, cough or sneeze, as well as share items like cups or bottles of water. Further, the usual case of mumps has about 14-18 days from the time of infection to the showing of symptoms. However, that time can be as short as 12 days and as long as 25 days. Mumps is usually contagious two days prior to symptoms showing and five days after their emergence.
According to ODH, if someone gets the mumps, you should do the following:
• Stay home from work or school for five days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live in your house.
• Minimize close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
• Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands too. Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
• Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.
Still, though, the best protection against mumps is the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Not only with cases of mumps, but many infectious diseases are preventable if you and your children maintain your vaccinations. Despite outside sources that may suggest otherwise, vaccinating yourself and your family helps protect your own health, as well as the community’s. Disease spread is less likely with a vaccinated community. Further, those who cannot vaccinate due to medical reasons, are protected when the rest of us get vaccinated, since there is no disease that is possible to be spread.
Premal Bhatt, MPH, is the epidemiologist at Madison County-London City Health District and can be reached at 740-852-3065, ext. 1520.