Almost all over the country, there are reports of new cases of mumps. Texas alone is experiencing a 20-year high in mumps cases. So far, nearly 2,000 cases have been reported in 42 states and that number is going to top last year’s total by an extra 50%.
Public health officials in Texas have asked healthcare officials to be on the lookout for mumps. They believe that some cases may be linked to the students who arrived for spring break along the Gulf Coast. As of April 2017, the state had 221 cases of mumps, the most in the past 3 decades.
Mumps is contagious infection that is spread by close person to person contact. The virus attacks the salivary glands causing a swollen face with puffy cheeks. In addition, the virus can cause a fever, malaise and headache. The individual remains contagious for 3-4 days before one even develop the symptoms. The mumps virus can be spread through saliva and sharing personal care items like cups, lipstick, forks and spoons; even kissing is a common way to spread the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is very concerned with the increase in mumps cases. So far no one knows the cause of the increase but some experts suggest that it could be that the mumps vaccine may not be working or that the effectiveness of the vaccine has decreased over time.
Currently, a child in the US gets two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. The first injection is at 12-15 months and the second is in between 4-6 years old.
The majority of mumps cases are mild but it can cause complications like meningitis, orchitis and parotitis. In males, if the infection occurs after puberty it can lead to sterility. Before the vaccine era, mumps was one of the most common causes of meningitis and deafness in children.
Even children who are vaccinated can become infected but overall tend to have a mild form of illness. The treatment of mumps is supportive with bed rest and plenty of fluids. The CDC is recommending that anyone with swollen cheeks and fever needs to be checked out by the healthcare provider so that mumps can be ruled out.
Experts at CDC are now trying to determine if an additional dose of the vaccine may be necessary to prevent future outbreaks. The vaccine is ineffective once the infection has occurred.