Morning Rounds: Preventing the mumps

NORFOLK, Va. - Cases of the mumps are on the rise this year.  Several cases were confirmed at James Madison University in February, and CBS Baltimore reports health officials investigated 11 cases earlier this month.

News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light said the vaccine does not guarantee protection from the mumps.

"We know that vaccinations lose their effectiveness over time," explained Dr. Light on News 3 This Morning.  "Recent studies have shown that a third dose of the MMR vaccine could likely reduce outbreaks and increase the effectiveness in preventing the spread of the disease."

Mumps spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose and throat.

"The infection usually spreads before any symptoms develop," said Dr. Light.  "The spread of the virus is due to coughing, sneezing, sharing items (cups or eating utensils), and touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated."

Dr. Light said symptoms usually occur within two weeks of exposure.  He listed the most common symptoms as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen and tender parotid glands

The most susceptible people, according to Dr. Light, are those who are not vaccinated,  people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and people who received only one vaccination.

"Hand washing is the best bet to prevent the spread of the mumps," he said.

Dr. Light also advises disinfecting hard surfaces and keeping infected children and adults out of contact with non-infected individuals.  He said those who are infected should avoid contact with others from the time of diagnosis until at least five days after the onset of swollen parotid glands.