Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects saliva-producing glands that are located near your ears. Mumps can cause swelling in one or both of these glands. The infection was common in the United States until mumps vaccination became routine. Since then, the number of cases has dropped dramatically. However, mumps outbreaks still occur in the United States, and the number of cases has crept up in recent years. These outbreaks generally affect people who aren’t vaccinated and occur in close-contact settings such as schools or college campuses.

According to the Center For Disease Control, the biggest concern about the mumps are that less than one percent of cases result in inflammation of your brain or the membranes surrounding your brain. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that helps protect against the mumps. It is usually part of the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine. The vaccine is not perfect, but it is quite good at preventing the mumps with one dose being on average 78% effective and two doses being 88% effective.

The largest outbreak occurred in a close-knit community in northwest Arkansas that resulted in nearly 3,000 cases. Two large outbreaks from Iowa and Illinois each involved several hundred university students. Additionally, about half of outbreaks involved greater than 10 cases.

Below is a picture detailing recent mumps outbreaks.

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 8.36.12 AM.png

Some people infected with the mumps virus have either no signs or symptoms or very mild ones. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus. The primary sign of mumps contains swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out.

Be sure to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow to avoid spreading the disease through airborne particles. Avoid sharing drinks, food, and utensils; these can all carry the flu or mumps viruses. But the best thing you can do for yourself to prevent mumps, is simply go get vaccinated.