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To say that no one is affected with mumps anymore would be untrue. Mumps has decreased due to vaccinations that are given during childhood to prevent it. However, many parents do not allow their children to be vaccinated, and these children often contract the disease.
Mumps is a viral infection that affects the salivary glands, which are found just below the ears. The purpose of the salivary glands is to produce saliva. This saliva is used in the breakdown of food, making it more easily digestible.
Mumps is a very contagious infection. Droplets pass through the air when infected people sneeze or cough, and the virus is thus passed on to non-infected people. When a person becomes infected, symptoms normally appear two or three weeks after infection.
One of the first symptoms is usually a noticeable swelling in the salivary glands. This swelling lasts for around a week to 10 days. Other symptoms include headaches, fever, loss of appetite and pain when eating and swallowing food. However, symptoms may vary. Some people experience very mild symptoms, while others may not experience any symptoms. Mumps is extremely contagious and can be passed on a week before any symptoms appear in the carrier. It can also be passed on at least 10 days after the swelling occurs. This means that if you have been infected, you can be contagious for almost four weeks.
Mumps is not a serious illness, but severe cases can have ramifications in later life. In adolescent males, serious cases that affect the testes are thought to contribute to sterility. One in 15,000 cases can lead to deafness. Pregnant women who become infected have a higher risk of miscarriage.
The vaccination for this disease is called the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR). The first dose is usually given around the age of 15 months. The second is administered at the age of four. Children should be given both doses before they reach school age. There is no strict requirement for the ages at which they can be given the vaccination, but doses must be given at least three months apart.
There have been cases in which children have been vaccinated but still contract the infection. If this happens, the children should not be allowed to attend school. Infection in adults is rare, but it does occur. This is mainly due to the vaccination either not working or not having been administered in the first place.
Mumps may not be the most important component of the MMR vaccine, but we certainly don't want it coming back! Canada had quite an outbreak of mumps because a lot of people hadn't had the recommended two doses (they had had just one). In the US, people who were in school before the 1980s might not have had the second shot, so if you're not sure, check with your doctor to see if you should have another shot. Especially if you're a woman who might get pregnant!
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