CLEVELAND – Most people receive vaccinations against mumps when they are very young, however, while rare, it is still possible to catch the virus if you’ve been vaccinated.
In fact, according to a new study, recent resurgences of mumps in the United States may be a result of the reduced effectiveness of the mumps vaccine over time.
To combat the rise in mumps outbreaks, recently updated vaccine guidelines say that in the event of a mumps outbreak, public health authorities may recommend a third dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
According to Camille Sabella, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, mumps can be dangerous because it’s easy to spread.
“When you have a vaccine that’s 90 percent effective and it’s a very contagious virus, so that when it’s introduced into a community, if you have individuals who don’t have protection against it, it really spreads very rapidly,” said Dr. Sabella.
Mumps is a virus that causes fever, fatigue, chills, loss of appetite and puffing in the cheeks.
The virus is transmitted via small droplets in the air and can also be transmitted through close personal contact and can last anywhere from a few days to a week.
Dr. Sabella said mumps used to be considered a childhood virus, but now that more young children are vaccinated, doctors will often see it in older children and young adults.
Before the mumps vaccine became available more than 50 years ago, the disease was common and would cause complications such as permanent deafness in children.
The best way to protect against mumps is for folks to make sure they’ve had two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
Dr. Sabella said that like most viruses, mumps can be significant for healthy folks, but especially troubling for the immunocompromised.
Because the MMR vaccine is a live virus, those with weakened immune systems often cannot receive it, thus making them more susceptible to contracting mumps.
This is why Dr. Sabella said it’s crucial that healthy people get both doses of the MMR vaccine.
“If you have not had two doses of MMR vaccine it’s never too late to get them,” said Dr. Sabella. “Certainly if you’ve only had one, you certainly should get a second dose and if you’ve not had any, then you should get two.”
There is no treatment for mumps, but it’s important to call a doctor if it is suspected that a person has contracted the virus. Dr. Sabella said it’s important to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest to allow the virus to run its course.