With the recent reported cases of mumps in Washington County, we wanted to take a moment to share some important facts about this illness, how it is spread, and some ways to reduce the spread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is a viral illness that is transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets or saliva from an infected person. It is best known for painful, swollen salivary glands that show up as puffy cheeks and swollen jaw. Boys may also have painful, swollen testicles. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. There is no treatment, and symptoms usually resolve themselves within a few weeks. Mumps is usually a mild disease in children, but adults may have more serious disease with complications.
People who were vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, as an infant and again between the ages of 4 and 6, are approximately 90% less likely to contract the mumps, according to the CDC.
If you have mumps, or most other illnesses, there are several things you can do to help prevent spreading the virus to others:
- Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands too.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Stay home from work or school for five days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live in your house.
Other recommendations are:
- Minimize close contact with people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot get vaccinated.
- Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
- Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.
Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drinks, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared.
Most mumps transmissions likely occur before the salivary glands begin to swell and within the 5 days after the swelling begins. Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.
Anyone who presents with such symptoms should contact their healthcare professional immediately.
More information about mumps is available from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html.
Your Prairie Grove School Nurses