Mumps is a highly contagious infection caused by a certain virus. It can easily be spread from one person to another; therefore, prevention is very important. The MMR vaccine is the surest way to prevent mumps. Common symptoms associated with mumps include painful inflammation on the cheeks or neck. Other symptoms include:
- Dry mouth
- Mild fever
- Fatigue or tiredness
- A headache or an earache
- Difficulty in swallowing, chewing, or talking
- Painful muscles
Although most patients fully recover from the infection within eight to ten days, on rare occasions, the virus causes serious complications like meningitis, ovarian or testicle inflammation, and deafness. There’s no precise cure for mumps, but several treatments are available to alleviate the pain and swelling.
Causes of Mumps
Mumps is triggered by a virus, which can reside on your eyes, nose, skin, or mouth. It’s highly contagious, meaning, it can be spread easily. However, it’s less contagious as compared to chickenpox and measles. The causative virus for mumps can be spread through:
- Coming in contact with somebody suffering from mumps
- Coughing, sneezing, or talking to an infected person
- Touching contaminated items
- Contact with respiratory secretions
It can take 14-25 days for mump-related symptoms to become visible after you’ve been infected. Nevertheless, you can transmit the infection to other people even before you realize that you’re sick. Actually, your most contagious phase begins two days before the accompanying symptoms begin.
If you contract mumps, you’ll remain contagious for the initial five days of your infection. During the entire infection period, it’s important that you refrain from attending school or work. Young children shouldn’t be taken to daycare if they’re experiencing symptoms associated with mumps.
How to Prevent Mumps
The most reliable way to prevent the occurrence of mumps is to ensure that you and your family members receive the vaccination. Mumps can effectively be prevented by taking two doses of the MMR or mumps-containing vaccine. These types of vaccines are effective, safe, and absolutely free to all people.
The mumps vaccine forms part of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. It is often given as injections to children aged between 12 and 15 months. The second booster vaccination is again administered at eighteen months or the time just before the child starts schooling.
The side effects caused by MMR or MMRV vaccinations are often minor. An infant’s arm or leg may become a little bit reddish or painful where the needle entered into the skin. Mild side effects might also occur. They include:
Most often, these side effects occur within 24 hours of immunization and disappear within a few days.
Preventive Measures for Travelers
Mumps is very common in most parts of the world. Here are some preventive measures for people who are planning to travel abroad:
- Ensure that your immunizations against mumps are up-to-date for you and your family.
- Consult a health provider six weeks before your travel.
- If you aren’t sure if you have ever had MMR vaccinations before, then you better consider getting them before you leave.
People born between 1970 and 1979 might not have had vaccinations against measles and mumps. Consult your doctor for a confident diagnosis. However, if you’re sure, you can go ahead and have it. Even though you could have taken it, an additional vaccination won’t harm.