What is Mumps and is there a Mumps Epidemic coming?
As if we don't have enough to be worried about with the avian flu, I just read that there's a small mumps epidemic sweeping through the midwest this summer? What the heck? What is mumps, how is it transmitted and do I really need to worry about it?
First off, so we're clear, here's some important information from a recent story (entitled CDC: Mumps Cases Swell) on the so-called Mumps Epidemic:
"The nation's first mumps epidemic in nearly 20 years is taking hold in the Midwest and has reached Kansas and Nebraska.
"Iowa has been hardest hit this year, with reported cases shooting up from five per year to 515 possible cases so far this year. Six neighboring states also have reported mumps, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"As of Monday, Kansas had reported 33 cases, Nebraska, 43; Minnesota, one; Missouri, four; Wisconsin, four; and Illinois, four."
So it's possible that the use of the word "epidemic" might be a bit rash (pardon the pun) it is still a bit troubling and worth concern if you or your children are frequently in confined spaces with a lot of other people (think college lecture halls and preschools):
"The CDC and state health departments are working together to investigate the Iowa outbreak's cause. They also are waiting to see whether new cases will spread after two people traveled by airplane while they had mumps. In addition to the states already affected, flights went to Texas, Arkansas and Washington, D.C."
To learn more about Mumps, I popped over to the Mayo Clinic to see what it had on file. Here's the scoop:
"Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands — one of three pairs of salivary glands, located below and in front of your ears. If you or your child contracts mumps, it can cause swelling in one or both parotid glands.
"However, your odds of contracting mumps aren't very high. Mumps was common until the mumps vaccine was licensed in 1967. Before the vaccine, up to 200,000 cases of mumps occurred each year in the United States. Since then, the number of cases has dropped dramatically, so there are now fewer than 300 cases a year. Mumps is still a common disease in many parts of the world, though, so prevention is important."
In terms of signs and symptoms:
"About one-third of people infected with the mumps virus have no signs or symptoms. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and may include:
"The primary — and best known — sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. In fact, the term mumps is an old expression for lumps or bumps within the cheeks."
How can you get the mumps? According to the Mayo Clinic information, mumps is caused by "the mumps virus, which spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. If you're not immune, you can contract mumps by breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps."
There is a vaccine for mumps, part of the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella), but there is controversy whether the side effects of this particular vaccine can be linked to autism in young children. Mayo says it's disproven, but I'll just note that the Mayo Clinic information on mumps is sponsored by "VaccinePlace.com", one of many, many companies with a major stake in this multi-billion-dollar big pharma industry.
Anyway, that should be enough information for you to be more aware of what's going on with mumps. Is it life-threatening? No. Is it going to likely be uncomfortable for anyone who gets it? Yeah, probably. But you'll need to decide for yourself whether that's enough reason to get the two-shot vaccine for you and/or your children.
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