In the last few weeks, parents across the U.S. have been alerted of several mumps outbreaks on college campuses and other school settings. What’s quickly becoming one of the largest outbreaks of mumps in the last 10 years, the Centers for Disease Control is reporting more than 4,200 cases nationwide, with nearly 2,000 cases reported in Arkansas alone. As of yet, no cases have been reported in Louisiana.
Although these are frightening numbers, parents should not think that the mumps vaccine does not work. The vaccine is 88 percent effective when the recommended two doses are given. People who have been vaccinated may still develop mumps, but likely a milder form.
However, when comparing the numbers of cases in the 1980s to the era before the vaccine became commonplace, there has been a decrease from hundreds of thousands of cases per year to a few hundred per year—a 99 percent decrease in mumps cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Mumps is a viral infection that typically manifests as fever, headaches, fatigue, achiness, and painful swelling of the salivary glands beneath the jaw.
Some people who have been infected with the viruses may have mild or no symptoms. More serious complications, although rare, can include meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and hearing loss.
Mumps is highly contagious and can spread quickly, which is why it is so common on college campuses and in schools. Public health experts believe that the recent surge may be explained by waning immunity and are looking into the “whys and hows.” We hope to soon learn about new vaccine recommendations.
To learn more about mumps or further questions about the outbreak, click here.
Dr. Uzodi is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. She completed a pediatric infectious disease Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, and is Board Certified in pediatrics and pediatric infec