Mumps

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has received numerous reports of confirmed or probable cases of mumps connected to an alumni basketball tournament in Columbus, Nebraska.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is experiencing a mumps outbreak also, but it is unknown at this time if the Nebraska cases are related.

A health advisory was sent to healthcare providers asking them to be on the lookout for cases of mumps and to contact their local health department if any cases are suspected or confirmed.

Basics
Health officials say mumps is a highly contagious disease. An individual is infectious from three days before symptoms appear to nine days after. No severe complications of mumps have been reported.

Antibiotics are not an option because mumps is a viral infection. Officials say the best thing people can do to protect themselves is practice good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching your nose, eyes or mouth, and covering your cough and sneezes.

Any suspected case of mumps should be reported to the local health department.


Image of a child displaying symptoms of mumps FAQs

What is mumps?

It is an infection caused by the mumps virus.

How is mumps spread?

Mumps is spread by airborne transmission with mucus or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes.

Who gets mumps?

Anyone, but it is more common in infants, children and young adults. Of people who are not immunized, more than 85% will have mumps by adulthood, but symptoms may have been mild and therefore not recognized.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most common symptoms are fever, headache, and swollen salivary glands under the jaw. The disease can lead to hearing loss, aseptic meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) and, in 20% to 30% of males who have reached puberty, the disease can cause painful, swollen testicles.

How soon do symptoms appear?

They may appear 12 - 25 days after infection, but usually within 18 days.

How long is an infected person able to spread the disease?

From 3 days prior to the onset of symptoms to 4 days after.

Can infection with mumps occur more than once?

No.

What is the treatment for mumps?

There is no specific treatment. Supportive care should be given as indicated.

Is there a vaccine to prevent mumps?

Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine, given as combination MMR vaccine, separated by at least 4 weeks, are routinely recommended for all children. The first dose is given on or after the first birthday; the second is given at 4 - 6 years of age. MMR is a live, attenuated vaccine. Pregnant women and persons with immunodeficiency or immunosuppression should not receive live attenuated vaccines.

Because of the current outbreak, I heard certain people need to check their vaccination status.   Who are they?

  • People in schools, colleges and universities including students, teachers and staff should have two doses of mumps vaccine (MMR).

  • Health care workers should also have two doses of MMR, or proof of immunity to mumps.

 I’m concerned about mumps but I don’t fall into the groups above, what are my options?

  • Check your immunity. This requires a blood test at a health care provider’s office.   The cost of the test varies from laboratory to laboratory, but can be found for around $20 at laboratories in Nebraska.

  • If you have one dose of MMR vaccine, you can obtain a second dose.

  • If you’ve never been vaccinated, you can obtain two doses of MMR, separated by at least 30 days.   The cost of the MMR vaccine varies.  Some hospitals have obtained the vaccine for around $40.  Administration fees vary. 

Are two doses of mumps vaccine better than one?

Health officials say one dose is better than none and two doses are better than one.

According to health experts:

  • People over 65 years old or who have had mumps can be assumed to have naturally-acquired immunity to mumps.

  • People 45 – 65 years old may not have gotten the vaccine or the disease.

  • People 30 – 45 years old who have attended school in Nebraska most likely received one dose of the MMR vaccine, if they were compliant with school entry requirements.

  • People under the 30 years old who have attended school in Nebraska most likely have received two doses of a MMR vaccine, if they were compliant with school entry requirements. 

What can be done to stop the spread of mumps?

Anyone with mumps should not go back to child care, school or work until 5 days after symptoms began or until they are well whichever is longer. Contacts to a mumps case should have their immunization status evaluated. Anyone who has not received 2 doses of a mumps-containing vaccine (preferably MMR vaccine) should be vaccinated. Persons who may have been exposed should be educated on the signs and symptoms of mumps disease and should seek medical attention as soon as any of these symptoms begin.


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