• By Deborah Balzer

Infectious Diseases A-Z: Resurgence in mumps infections

February 6, 2017


More than 5,300 cases of mumps infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2016, and nearly 500 cases in January of 2017. Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic, says a resurgence of highly contagious childhood viral diseases such as mumps in the U.S. is "in people who haven't been vaccinated, but also in some people who have not been adequately vaccinated."

"Mumps is another viral illness that used to cause a lot of childhood infections across the world, but has decreased substantially since our vaccine programs," says Dr. Tosh. "We still do see mumps across the world, especially in developing countries, but we’ve also started to see a resurgence in mumps in the U.S."  Dr. Tosh says the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) is very good in preventing mumps but not perfect."

Watch: Dr. Pritish Tosh talks about mumps.

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 15 months and the second at 4 - 6 years. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

"Most people who get mumps get swelling in the neck area, and it causes a fever, and for most people who get mumps, that’s the end of it. They get better on their own," says Dr. Tosh.  "However, there are several complications. This used to be the No. 1 cause of sensorineural hearing loss in children and can cause infection in the brain."

Dr. Tosh says, "This is another situation, similar to measles, where we have lost our community memory of what these diseases do. And if one were to go to a developing country and see how children are really affected by these diseases, people can see the value of vaccination and really not take it for granted, as I think we do here."

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