Avoiding the Mumps

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

October 4, 2006

The disease that results from the Mumps virus is spread through saliva. That not only means that it's transmitted through kissing and the sharing of food and drink, but also a sneeze or a cough. That means most are susceptible, and most are misinformed.

Think you're really clear on what the mumps entail?

"Not really, I guess your glands, swollen glands," Charlottesville resident Vickie Loeser guessed.

"Apparently you get some swelling and inflammation in your throat area, that kind of thing," resident Rich Shelley added.

These people aren't in the minority.

"A lot of people don't really know, and they're calling and coming in just because they've heard about it, they have no clue whether they're at high risk," Alice Sorum, nursing director for Thomas Jefferson Health Department said.

Outside of the swollen glands, few people are well-educated when it comes to the infectious disease and what else to look for.

"Typically before you get the swelling in your cheeks, you have two or three days of flu-like symptoms, so you may have a fever and headache and you just feel tired," Dr. Lilian Peake of Thomas Jefferson Health Department explained.

Then, and only in the most severe cases, can the disease result in Meningitis or swelling of the testes and ovaries. The Center for Disease Control recommends that all school age children have a double dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine.

"It's recommended the first dose be between 12 and 15 months of age, and typically the second dose is prior to entering Kindergarten or public school," Sorum continued.

But for those already with a mumps diagnosis, patience is key.

"You can't treat it with antibiotics, people with headaches and swelling can treat it with Tylenol and aspirin and that helps relieve the symptoms," Dr. Peake said.

If you do happen to get the disease, it's similar to the chicken pox in that, after you've had it once, you are typically immune to getting it again.

Only adults that are considered at risk, those would be college students, health care workers, and international travelers need to get a double dose as well. Otherwise, if the person only has the first shot, they should be fine.

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