Mumps, a serious virus for which we have a vaccine, is once again making a comeback. Many of the recent outbreaks have occurred on college campuses. Since the viral infection can easily get passed from one person to another through coughing and direct contact, it spreads very quickly. While vaccines for mumps are generally 90% effective and are usually administered as part of the MMR vaccine that children receive, more people are opting not to be vaccinated. The result is an outbreak such as we’re seeing now.
According to ABC News, 1,200 mumps cases have already been reported in 2017:
“Throughout the last couple of decades we’ve certainly had spotty outbreaks,” said Dr. Camile Sabella, the Cleveland Clinic Director of the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
Spotty, he says, because outbreaks are generally contained to populations living in small areas, in particular, college campuses, where many of this year’s 1,200 cases are confined to.
While 1,200 cases might not seem like a lot, consider the fact that 5,000 cases were reported for 2016 in its entirety. With only two months on record so far, we will surely beat last year’s count. And that’s a record that no one wants.
The mumps virus results in swelling of the parotid glands near the ears. The most common symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite. But some people show more symptoms and others show none at all. There is no cure, which is why vaccinations are of the utmost importance.
According to the CDC, Arkansas and Missouri have been hit the hardest this year. But other states are not immune. Only a handful of states hadn’t reported any mumps outbreaks as of February 25 of this year.
Dr. Sabella made the following recommendation:
“Make sure that they’ve received all of their childhood vaccinations and certainly before going to college, that’s a really good time to make sure that you’ve received not only two doses of MMR vaccine but also there’s a very effective meningitis vaccine also,” said Sabella.