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Nasty Infectious Diseases You Want To Avoid - Mumps

Updated on December 31, 2008

This is an acute viral illness that was at one time a common childhood disease, featuring swollen and inflamed salivary glands on one or both sides of the face or under the jaw. In 1968 there were 152,000 mumps cases; today, only a few thousand people per year get mumps.

Before the mumps vaccine was available, almost every child got mumps sometime in childhood. While the incidence of the disease is much lower today, an unimmunized child remains at high risk for getting mumps. The diseases is still widely found in developing countries, which is why anyone over one year of age should have a vaccine when traveling abroad.

Cause - Mumps is spread by airborne droplets of the mumps virus that are expelled by a patient with mumps who is coughing, sneezing, or talking. The virus invades and multiplies in the parotid gland, but it is attracted to all the glands.

Symptoms - The disease will appear two to three weeks after exposure, beginning with mild discomfort in the area just inside the angle of the jaw. Many infected children have no symptoms. In more serious cases, however, the child complains of pain and has difficulty chewing; the glands on one or both sides become painful and tender. Fever, headache, and swallowing problems may follow, but the fever falls after two to three days and the swelling fades within 10 days. When only one side is affected, the second gland often swells as the first one subsides.

Diagnosis - Mumps is usually diagnosed from symptoms; it can be confirmed by culturing the virus from saliva or urine, or by measuring antibodies to mumps virus in the blood. The skin test for mumps is no longer available as it has been superceded.

Treatment - While there is no treatment, a patient may be given painkillers and plenty of fluids. In moderate to severe cases the child may need to stay in bed. Males with testicular ous reactions are extremely rare. involvement may be given a stronger painkiller; corticosteroid drugs may be needed to reduce inflammation.

Complications - While mumps is normally considered to be a mild disease, sometimes it can be more serious, causing a mild inflammation of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) in about one in every of swelling in the testes. 10 children with mumps. More rarely, it can cause an inflammation of the brain itself (encephalitis), which usually improves by itself without causing permanent brain damage. While serious complications are not common, one out of every teenage and adult the mumps virus vaccine. males with the disease will have an inflammation and swelling in one or both testes. In extremely rare cases, this can lead to sterility. Mumps can also cause inflammation of the ovaries in older girls and women, inflammation of the pancreas or heart muscle, or auditory nerve damage resulting in deafness.

Prevention - All healthy children who have never had mumps should be immunized on or before their first birthday. If in doubt, it is safe to be immunized or reimmunized against mumps. The vaccine is available by itself, or in combination with measles and rubella (MMR) or mumps and rubella (MR). Typically, the combination MMR vaccine is given at 15 months of age because it includes a measles vaccine; it protects the child against all three diseases. The vaccination, which has been used since 1967, can also be given to older children and adults. It is highly effective and one injection produces long-lasting (probably lifelong) immunity. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in very rare instances the mumps vaccine produces a mild, brief fever. This fever may occur one to two weeks after receiving the vaccine. Occasionally there is some slight swelling of the throat glands. Serious reactions are extremely rare. Males who have already gone through puberty who have never been immunized against mumps or had the infection should avoid contact with any infected person. If symptoms do develop, passive immunization with antimumps immunoglobulin can provide some protection against the development of swelling in the testes.

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