Recent Mumps Cases a Reminder of the Continuing Need for Vaccination

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 | 02:06 pm

NASHVILLE – A small cluster of three cases of mumps associated with international travel was recently reported in Tennessee. These cases provide a reminder of the importance of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Although mumps is rare in the United States thanks to high levels of immunization with the MMR vaccine, it is still common in other parts of the world.

The best prevention for mumps is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. One dose is required for children in daycare, and two doses are required for school-aged children and college students in Tennessee. Children should get their first MMR vaccination after their first birthday and a second dose before Kindergarten, at four to six years of age. Long-standing state requirements for MMR vaccinations in daycare, school and college settings help provide important protection to our communities.

The MMR vaccination is not generally recommended for persons born before 1957. Most people of this generation are immune because they had mumps during childhood. A single dose of MMR vaccine is recommended for most other adults if they were never immunized or infected as a child; certain adults born in 1957 or later should have two doses, including those who work in healthcare, attend college or are planning international travel.

International travelers need to have had two doses of MMR vaccine to ensure the best possible protection against mumps, as well as measles and rubella, any of which travelers may encounter at popular overseas destinations, including Europe. Adults born in 1957 or later who don’t know if they’ve had mumps or been vaccinated should ask their healthcare provider about the MMR vaccine.

The most typical symptoms of mumps are fever, headache and tiredness, with swelling on one or both sides of the face as a result of inflammation of the salivary glands. Mumps is normally not life-threatening, but some infected people develop meningitis, inflammation of the testes, deafness or other complications. It is spread by having close contact with infected patients and their respiratory secretions.

Those who are not properly vaccinated and come in close contact with the mumps virus are the most likely to get sick. Although less likely, vaccinated people also may become ill if they have close contact with a mumps patient. Evidence suggests fully vaccinated people who still develop mumps have fewer complications.

Those with a fever and facial or jaw swelling after being in contact with the mumps virus should be evaluated by their healthcare provider. In the U.S., these symptoms are usually caused by something other than mumps, often other viruses or bacteria. Your health care provider can evaluate your symptoms and determine if testing is needed.   

For additional information about mumps and vaccines, visit the National Network for Immunizations Information at www.immunizationinfo.org/vaccines/mumps.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.