Public Health Recommends Vaccination Against Mumps
The State of Iowa has seen an increase in the number of people with mumps this year. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Dickinson County Public Health (DCPH) recommend residents and visitors receive vaccinations to provide immunity to mumps.
Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands caused by the mumps virus. It 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. It is generally transmitted from about three days before symptoms appear to about four days after.
The most common symptoms of mumps 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 percent of males who have reached puberty, the disease can cause painful, swollen testicles. Symptoms usually appear within 18 days of infection, although they may appear anywhere from 12 to 25 days after infection.
There is no specific treatment for mumps, so prevention is key. The mumps vaccine (contained in the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine) provides the most prevention. Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine, given as combination MMR vaccine, separated by at least four weeks, are needed to provide immunity. The IDPH recommends vaccination as follows:
• Persons over 65 years of age – this group of people is most likely to have natural immunity to the disease.
• Persons from 45 to 65 years of age – it is recommended this age group check their immunization documentation to see if they received mumps vaccinations in their lifetime. Those in this age group grew up when the chance of exposure to wild mumps virus was markedly declining (thus have no natural immunity) and when the opportunity to receive mumps vaccine was uncertain. If only one or no vaccination was received, vaccination is recommended to provide immunity. People that are unsure of their vaccination history can have a mumps antibody blood test to determine immunity.
• Persons less than 45 years of age – if people in this age group went to school in Iowa, it can be assumed they had one dose of mumps vaccine. A second dose should be given if not previously documented in the person’s medical history. People that are unsure of their vaccination history can have mumps antibody blood test to determine immunity.
• MMR vaccine is routinely recommended for all children. The first dose is given on or after their first birthday; the second is given at four to six years of age.
MMR is a live, attenuated vaccine. Pregnant women and persons with immunodeficiency or immunosuppression should not receive live attenuated vaccines.
Dickinson County Public Health (DCPH), located at Lakes Regional Community Health Center on Highway 71 in Milford, provides MMR vaccines for $60. Immunization clinics are routinely held every Tuesday from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm by appointment. Appointments during other times of the week can also be scheduled by calling DCPH at 336-2682. DCPH Supervisor Mary Dunleavy said, “We routinely have vaccine to accommodate people coming in to get immunized throughout the year, so there shouldn’t be a problem with anyone’s ability to be immunized against mumps if needed.”
The MMR vaccine is administered by a shot in the arm. Dunleavy said, “As with any injection, there is immediate discomfort of getting poked in the arm, but other than that, it is a pretty well tolerated vaccine. There are usually no reactions. Sometimes a rash develops seven to 10 days after the immunization, but it usually resolves itself one to two days later.”
Dunleavy said that there have been some reports of people in Iowa that had received the MMR vaccine becoming infected with mumps. She said, “The mumps vaccine is 95 percent effective, so there is still a chance you can still become infected. The vaccine is still the best way to prevent infection.”
The mumps antibody blood test is administered by LRH’s laboratory department for $69. Those interested should contact their local family physician.
Other basic disease prevention measures that may protect against mumps include washing hands frequently, not sharing food, drink, or other objects that might contain another person’s saliva, and staying home when ill.
Anyone with questions about mumps or the mumps vaccine can call DCPH at 336-2682 or visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s web site at www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/mumps.asp.