The Tennessee Department of Health has recently announced its concerns about an active outbreak of mumps in neighboring Arkansas and their own community. The outbreak currently involves over 2,400 suspected and confirmed cases of the disease.
Mumps is a virus spread through close contact with an infected person.
It can be spread through sneezing, coughing or talking, and it is contagious before symptoms like swollen glands appear. While the illness is usually mild in children, adults can suffer serious complications.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all adults who have not previously had mumps, and were born in 1957 or later, receive at least one dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine during their lifetimes. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for adults who work in high-risk settings such as schools, college campuses, or healthcare facilities. The same is recommended for people who travel internationally.
To avoid infection in children, parents should ensure their kids are properly vaccinated. The CDC recommends two doses of the vaccine for children: first at 12 to15 months of age, and the next between 4 and 6 years of age. Side effects from the shot are infrequent and usually mild in children, most often a fever or rash.
While no vaccine is 100% effective, the mumps component of the MMR vaccine is about 88% effective when given in the recommended two doses. Vaccines are available to children and adults in provider offices and all Tennessee county health departments.
Symptoms of mumps can include:
- Swollen salivary glands causing puffy cheeks and jaw
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms may not appear until several weeks after infection. While some cases are so mild that the infected individual doesn’t realize they are ill, serious complications like encephalitis and meningitis can still occur. However, most cases of mumps in children are fully resolved within a couple of weeks with no permanent damage.
The best protection against infection is vaccination, although proper and frequent hand washing will also help prevent mumps. If you suspect that you or a family member has mumps, stay home, avoid contact with others, and schedule an appointment with Green Hills Pediatric Associates in Nashville, Tennessee.