Mumps are Back. Should Women of Childbearing Age Have Cause For Concern?

Proactive Health

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

It seems the mumps are back! Between January and March of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported it received more than 1,900 reports of mumps from individuals across the country. Additionally last week, the Texas Department of Health Services reported an estimated 221 mumps cases in 2017, the highest outbreak in Texas in 22 years!

So far, 2017 has seen the second highest mumps outbreak in America in seven years.

Whether the resurgence of mumps is due to ineffective vaccinations, a mutation of the mumps virus or individuals who simply aren’t being vaccinated at all is unknown. According to the CDC, vaccinated individuals who live or work in close quarters with an infected person are still at risk for contracting the infection, though it may be less severe.

Still, the CDC also reports individuals who get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are nine times less likely to get mumps than an unvaccinated person.

What are mumps?

Mumps is an infection caused by a virus that is spread through direct human contact or airborne droplets. The CDC reports a major factor in the spread of mumps is being in a crowded environment such as a dorm room or classroom, and the exchange of saliva from kissing or sharing cups or silverware.

Protection against mumps is primarily through vaccinations.

Most people infected with mumps may experience tiredness, aches and pains similar to the flu, swollen salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, loss of appetite and fever. Most symptoms can take up to 12 to 25 days to show up.

The infection commonly impacts children aged five to nine years old, but it does occasionally impact adults and may lead to severe complications. According to the CDC, some common complications from mumps are:

  • Meningitis
  • Deafness
  • Inflammation of the brain - also known as Encephalitis
  • Pain and swelling in the testicles

There is also evidence mumps is associated with premature menopause or infertility. Early menopause can be devastating for women who want to have children.

Be proactive, prevent the spread of mumps

  • Since the cause of the mumps outbreak is still being debated by researchers, and symptoms can take up to 25 days to appear, it’s important you do your part to stay healthy and keep those around you safe.
    • If you have mumps, avoid spreading it to others by cutting out extensive contact with people. Sleep alone and do not go to school or work.
    • Don’t share utensils, cups or plates. Since mumps can be spread through saliva, it’s important to keep theses things isolated even if you don’t have any signs of infection. Remember, it can take up to 25 days for mumps symptoms to appear.
    • Wash your hands frequently. Handwashing is an easy and effective way to prevent most viral infections from spreading, including the mumps.
    • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Since mumps can be transmitted through airborne particles, it’s important to do your part to stop the spread of droplets by covering your mouth when you cough.
    • Disinfect as much as possible. The CDC recommends disinfecting surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops and other frequently touched surfaces.
    • Get vaccinated. Although it’s still unclear whether or not individuals who have the vaccine can spread the infection or can get it again later in life, many medical professionals attest to the fact that once you’re vaccinated you’re immune. Regardless, getting vaccinated may lessen your chances of infection at all stages of life.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.  

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