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Record Cases of the Mumps Were Reported in 2016

December 19, 2016
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The mumps, deemed very rare since a vaccine was introduced in the 1960s, has experienced a sudden surge in 2016. With less than a month left in the year, health professionals have seen the worst numbers of mumps outbreaks in a decade.

As of Nov. 26, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted 3,832 provisional mumps cases across 45 states and Washington, D.C., which is nearly triple the number of cases that occurred in 2015.

Also known as parotitis, mumps is a contagious virus spread by mucus and saliva. The illness displays with flu-like symptoms as well as “chipmunk cheeks,” caused by the swelling of the salivary glands. Fever, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite are also common mumps symptoms. The disease is usually resolved within a few weeks, but more serious cases can cause deafness, and inflammation of the testicles, brain, or ovaries.

These outbreaks have been happening frequently on college campuses in particular, although none have been reported on the University of Arizona campus, according to the university’s Director of Health Promotion and Preventive Services, David Salafsky. Before they enroll in classes, all UA students must show proof of immunization.

The MMR vaccine (measles/mumps/rubella) is 78% effective against the virus, while two doses of the vaccine is 88% effective, according to the CDC.

While these MMR vaccines are said to last for a long time, Paul Offit, a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says that the immunity can begin to wear off after about a decade. Since most people receive the vaccines at a young age, it makes sense that such an outbreak is occurring among college students.

An immunization advisory group may consider recommending a third dose of the mumps vaccine when they meet in February, but for the time being only two doses are recommended. Some do receive a third dose if they find themselves in contact with an outbreak or haven’t received a booster recently.

With this relatively rare disease on the rise, many people may not know what to do. Though facial swelling is troublesome, a case of the mumps does not usually warrant a trip to an emergency patient center.

Instead of spending $1,500 on an emergency room visit, a trip to an urgent care patient center can help you or your loved one resolve an illness like the mumps for one tenth of the price in a much quicker time frame.