Mumps may not be very common in the United States thanks to our stringent vaccine program, but the latter part of 2016 saw a national outbreak that affected 46 states and the District of Columbia. An outbreak of Mumps in Oregon has people worried, especially parents of children who have not yet completed their full MMR vaccine schedule. The doctors at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic assure you that there is nothing to panic over, and that you can take simple steps to help protect your family during this epidemic.

Mumps Outbreak in Oregon

Since early October 2016 there have been four confirmed cases of Mumps in Marion County. While Oregon has not been hit as hard as other states (Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma have seen the biggest resurgence of the virus) doctors recognize that parents are worried about their children contracting the virus.

Mumps 101: How It’s Spread and Symptoms to Watch Out For

Mumps is a viral infection that is spread through contact like coughing or sneezing; it can occur any time of year, not just during the peak cold/flu season. Certain behaviors that result in the exchange of saliva increase the spread of the virus, and include kissing, sharing utensils and cups, sharing cigarettes, and sharing food and drinks. Abstaining from these behaviors and shielding your cough/ sneeze with your arm to prevent the spread of airborne saliva particles can greatly reduce the chance of both spreading the disease and being infected.

Mumps is a viral infection that affects the glands near the ears. There are no medications to treat the virus (antibiotics cannot be used to treat viral infections) and for cases without complications, symptoms will typically pass within two weeks.

Mumps symptoms include:

  • Swollen salivary glands that cause a sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Trouble hearing
  • Neck swelling
  • Chills

It’s important to note that not all individuals experience symptoms.

People infected with Mumps can be contagious two days before symptoms appear, if at all, until five days after. Doctors recommend staying home and avoiding people once you are diagnosed with Mumps, as it is so highly contagious.

Long-term complications from the disease can be hearing loss, or more rarely, sterility in men.

Mumps Prevention

Doctors recommend that all individuals receive their Mumps vaccine as scheduled in childhood. It is administered as part of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) starting around age one, and requires two doses for complete defense (estimated at 88% protection against Mumps).

Parents should note that even children who have been fully vaccinated are susceptible to the disease, because 100% immunity is not guaranteed. Outbreaks occur most often when individuals live and work in a crowded environment – think dorm rooms, campus lecture halls, sports teams, and large concert venues seating thousands of people.

The doctors at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic advise parents to get the Mumps vaccine themselves if they have never been vaccinated or it has been longer than 20 years. This protects parents and the children alike, and keeps the family unit strong and healthy in the fight against this outbreak.

The recent Mumps outbreak has worried parents across the nation, and has certainly led to discomfort for those afflicted. However, it is a largely preventable disease if individuals complete their vaccine routines and take precautions against spreading and getting the virus. We hope the information we shared today has helped lessen your concern and provided you with valuable tips for keeping your family safe and healthy against Mumps in the new year. If you have questions about your child’s health needs or would like to schedule an appointment for vaccinations, please contact us today at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.

Image Source: