Being vaccinated might not fully protect you.
SUMMARY: Recent outbreaks of mumps in vaccinated students on campuses in New York, Massachusetts, and Missouri bring this devastating illness into the forefront again.
If you think that mumps was only a problem decades ago, you would be mistaken.
Recent outbreaks of mumps in vaccinated students on college campuses in New York, Massachusetts, and Missouri bring this illness into the forefront again.
What is the mumps, exactly?
Mumps is a contagious, viral illness that is spread through mucus by coughing, sneezing, sharing cups and eating utensils, and touching surfaces that have been touched by infected people. College campuses are the perfect environment for the mumps virus to spread, given the close proximity of students in classrooms, dormitories, and sports teams.
People at the biggest risk for acquiring mumps are unvaccinated people, those who have only received one dose of the vaccine, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. However, even people who have been properly vaccinated are at risk. According to the CDC, the standard two-dose vaccination is only 88% effective at preventing mumps, which means that even healthy people can get infected.
For most people, mumps causes only fever, muscle aches, and swollen salivary glands. For others, however, mumps can be devastating causing inflammation of the testicles (and permanent sterility) in males, inflammation of the ovaries and breast tissue in women, and inflammation of the brain or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, or deafness.
It can take from two to four weeks for infected people to show signs and symptoms.
What can I do to protect myself?
The most effective protection against mumps is to ensure that you have had two doses of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. (If you were born before 1957, you are considered immune, according to the CDC.)
Other precautions include:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water
- Do not share cups or meal utensils
- Clean surfaces often, paying attention to doorknobs, counters, and toys
If you have not been vaccinated due to health or religious reasons and there is an outbreak at your school or workplace, please contact your local health department for instructions on if you should stay away from the campus or office during the disease’s incubation period.
FROM THE HHN EDITORS:
We recommend that you have two doses of the MMR vaccine to give yourself the best chance of immunity to mumps. If you have not had the vaccines or have a compromised immune system, we suggest you be aware of the symptoms of this illness.
Call to action.
Source: Ben Beagle, Livingston County News.