Mumps is a virus–Encompass HealthCare and Wound Medicine[/caption]
After the recent mumps outbreak at the Ohio State University and its subsequent spread beyond campus and into the community, it’s a good time to review what you can do to avoid contracting the infection, and what you can do if you become infected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is a serious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, and swollen glands. Mumps infection can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and, rarely, death.
Children should receive their first vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella at 12 to 15 months, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years.
Mumps is a highly infectious disease that spreads the same way as a cold or flu does — through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. It’s recommended that patients have five days of isolation after diagnosis. That’s the time period when the disease is most infectious.
It’s difficult to isolate any disease within a crowded university setting, which may be one of the reasons why the OHU outbreak was so widespread. Plus, in one-third of cases, there are no symptoms. So the disease can be spread unknowingly.
There is no specific treatment; it’s a virus, so it doesn’t respond to antibiotics. Simply, it just has to run its course and generally resolves in one to two weeks.
During that time, patients should:
- Wash their hands frequently
- Cover their cough
- Stay at home if they’re sick to prevent spreading the disease.
Avoiding this infection is a function of when were you vaccinated, how many doses of the vaccine you received and whether you ever had an outbreak of this virus. Having two doses of the vaccine is the best way to prevent contracting the illness.
According to the CDC, all adults born during or after 1957 should have documentation of one dose of the vaccine. Adults at higher risk, such as university students, health care personnel, international travelers and persons with potential mumps outbreak exposure should have documentation of two doses of mumps vaccine or other proof of immunity to mumps.
In general, you’re considered to be immune to mumps if you’ve previously had the infection, or if you’ve been two-dose immunized against the disease. However, in the case of an outbreak, the CDC has issued guidance for considerations for use of a third dose in specifically identified target populations such as schools, colleges and healthcare settings.