Mumps are making a comeback, particularly on college campuses and in daycare centers.
A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that mumps are at a 10-year high. As of November, 45 states and the District of Columbia had reported a total of 2,879 mumps infections — more than double the mumps cases reported in 2015.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Common symptoms can include swollen glands in front of and below the ear or under the jaw, pain with opening and closing the jaw, fever, fatigue and malaise, headache and earache.
Currently, college campuses are taking the brunt of the mumps outbreak.
Dr. Michael Grosso, medical director and CMO of Huntington Hospital/Northwell Health, said close quarters such as dormitory living, can make it easier to pick up the virus.
“It’s spread through respiratory secretions, coughing, sneezing, close contact and sharing the same cups and utensils,” Grosso told CBS News.
Some colleges, such as The University of Missouri’s Columbia, are asking students to restrict their social activities and to make sure they get immunized. Typically, two doses of vaccine are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, but the school is asking students to get a third measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine “based on discussions with public health officials and consistent with guidance from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
College students aren’t the only ones being hit hard by mumps; younger children are also experiencing a rise in reported cases. More parents have opted-out of getting their children the MMR vaccine - putting non-immunized children at a higher risk.
Daycare centers are similar to college dormitories in that they provide an environment where a virus can be easily spread.
While most mumps cases are mild, albeit, uncomfortable, others can be more serious.
“Most individuals recover uneventfully from mumps, however as many as 10 percent of males who get mumps will get an inflammation of the testes which can lead to permanent sterility,” Grosso said.
The brain can also be affected. About 1 percent of people who come down with the mumps get serious brain infections and can experience meningitis, encephalitis and deafness associated with a brain infection.
“That small risk was behind the original impetus to create a vaccine,” Grosso said.
Physicians are urging students to get the immunizations and to practice good hygiene. Simple steps such as covering your cough or sneeze, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding sharing food, drinks, cups or utensils can help prevent the spread of viruses.
Vaccines are still the most effective way to lower your risk of getting the mumps. No vaccine is a 100 percent protective, Grosso notes, but it can help you avoid the risk of serious illness and lifelong health issues.
“Receiving two doses of mumps vaccines is said to confer about an 88 percent reduction in risk of getting mumps if you’re exposed,” said Grosso. A third dose may increase those odds.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the first dose of MMR vaccine should be administered between 12 and 15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 to 6 years of age.
Grosso emphasizes that parents need to get their children vaccinated early.
“Being immunized late is better than not being immunized ever. But being immunized late is not nearly as good as being immunized on time,” Grosso said.
Story sources: Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mumps-cases-10-year-high-college-outbreaks-vaccination/