Mumps occurs worldwide. Since the introduction of routine vaccination ie with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine given to children, there has been a 99% reduction in cases of mumps in western countries. Unfortunately some people do not elect to have their children vaccinated and this is one of the reasons why we have seen more cases recently. During outbreaks, vaccinated individuals are also potentially affected but in order to limit a very serious spread of this illness, we need to ensure as many people as possible continue to be vaccinated.
Mumps is highly infectious (ie spreads quickly) and usually starts within 12-25 days of being exposed to the virus. It spreads via respiratory secretions (ie mouth, nose etc), from direct contact with someone who has it or from direct contact with materials handled or used by someone who has the virus.
It usually starts with a fever, fatigue, headache and being generally unwell and off food etc. These symptoms are usually followed by the classical swelling of one or most commonly both parotid glands (glands in front of your ears behind your jawbone). This is painful and can last up to 10 days. It usually resolves by itself and because it is a virus, antibiotics do not help. However some cases are more serious and it can lead to meningitis, orchitis (swelling of testicles) and deafness amongst other things.
Pain relief (paracetamol, ibuprofen and hot and cold packs) and avoiding spread of it to someone else are vital. You can spread this illness very easily before the start of the parotid gland swelling and up until at least 5 days after the glands swell.
It is most dangerous in people who have not had the normal recommended 2 doses of the MMR vaccine in childhood or otherwise. If you have not had 2 doses you are particularly vulnerable to this illness. Sometimes, even if you have had 2 doses we may consider giving you a third dose if we deem you to be at a sufficiently increased risk due to your own individual circumstances.
Contact us in the Practice if you have any concerns about any of the issues raised here.