Health Team

Don't let your guard down about mumps

Posted June 3, 2010

WRAL Health Team

— Mumps was a prevalent childhood disease more than 50 years ago. After 1957, required vaccinations made it a rare disease in the U.S.

Mumps might be rare in this country, but experts say it is still prevalent in other parts of the world.

“A million people come and arrive in the United States from abroad each year, so there's always the possibility of these diseases,” said Dr. David Weber, an epidemiologist and associate director of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Mumps might be rare, but you must prepare Mumps might be rare, but you must prepare

Weber said there have been at least three local mumps cases this year.

The mumps vaccine is part of a combination vaccine along with measles, rubella and chicken pox.

With mumps, there's no rash. Instead, patients experience a swelling of the parotid glands that produce saliva.

The illness can sometimes cause sterility, but the more serious threats are complications like meningitis and pancreatitis.

Treatment options for mumps are different from many other viruses.

“If someone gets exposed to mumps, there's nothing we can do to prevent them from getting mumps if they've not been adequately immunized,” Weber said.

Mumps is found in saliva, so sharing utensils or a cup or sneezing can spread the virus.

Doctors say the best way to protect against mumps is by being immunized.

Kindergarten students are required to have two doses of the mumps vaccine before entering school. Students entering their freshman year of college are required to take two doses of mumps and the Tdap vaccine if it's been more than 10 years since their last tetanus shot.

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  • allie19 Jun 8, 2010

    Unless of course they are part of the "don't immunize your child because these illnesses don't exist anymore" crowd. Or "I'm Baptist, so I don't immunize." I've heard them all. Thimerisol is not in immunizations anymore and autism is one the rise. When thimerisol WAS in immunizations autism was much lower. So whats the excuse today?