(Headline Health) Don’t let the odd name fool you – mumps is a potentially serious disease that can infect your brain, your spinal cord, and your testicles or ovaries. You need to pay attention to this one.
Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands.
Most cases clear up after a few weeks of significant discomfort.
However, according to the CDC, complications of mumps are not uncommon, especially in adults. Those complications include:
- inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty
- inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis)
Children in the U.S. have been routinely vaccinated against mumps for decades. However according to the CDC, “We are seeing [mumps] in a young and highly vaccinated population.”
It’s evident that relying on vaccines to safeguard our health is becoming a less effective strategy. Boosting your immunity and avoiding infected populations are essential forms of self-defense.
Below we bring you further coverage on the resurgence of mumps.
Mumps Makes a Comeback, Even Among the Vaccinated
(PERRI KLASS, M.D., NEW YORK TIMES) If you think you’ve been seeing mumps in the news more often in the past couple of years, you’re absolutely right. (Story continues below photo.)
“Mumps outbreaks are on the rise,” said Dr. Janell Routh, a pediatrician who is a medical officer on the mumps team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 6,000 cases of mumps were reported in the United States last year, the highest number in 10 years. Around 2010, total annual cases were only in the hundreds.
Most recent outbreaks were among people 18 to 22 years old, most of whom had had the requisite two doses of mumps vaccine in childhood.
“We are seeing it in a young and highly vaccinated population,” Dr. Routh said.
In my world, you can date people by their childhood diseases. I’m too young to have had measles, but old enough to have had mumps and chickenpox.
Chickenpox I remember as particularly itchy and unpleasant; mumps I remember for the swollen chipmunk cheeks and, as with tonsillitis, a certain amount of ice cream to make painful swallowing easier.
Mumps is a virus that causes swelling of the parotid glands, the salivary glands under the ears, along with some more general symptoms like fever and fatigue.
The mumps vaccine was licensed in 1967, based on the Jeryl Lynn strain of mumps, and developed by Dr. Maurice Hilleman, who cultured the virus from his sick daughter.
Mumps is transmitted by droplets of saliva or mucus.
It can be spread by coughing and sneezing, but also by sharing cups and the close contact of living and eating and exercising together.
Many of the recent outbreaks occurred in college dorms or among athletic teams, as happened with the Syracuse University men’s and women’s lacrosse teams last month.
And “we are seeing it in other close-knit communities that tend to live closely together with strong social or cultural interactions,” Dr. Routh said, including religious groups.