symptoms, transmission, history
How Can My Baby Catch Mumps?
The causing agent of mumps is the virus of mumps (paramyxovirus). Mumps is a disease which falls under the so-called group of childrens' disease. However, adults can also contract mumps. The difference between this disease in kids and grown-ups is the severity of the symptoms and the frequency of complications. Adolescents and mature people tend to develop serious complications such as mumps-related orchitis (testicles inflammation which can lead to shrinking of these glands and sterility especially if it occurs on both sides, also encephalitis, meningitis, deafness and pancreatitis. Timely vaccination (MMR) is the best way to prevent these complications in 95% of the cases.
Mumps is an airborne virus that can be transmitted through the droplets of saliva while coughing, sneezing, kissing and touching toys or personal belongings of the infected individuals. It can spread by sharing food, drink or cutlery with an infected person. A person can also contract the virus by coming in contact with any object that has been touched by the infected person.
The incubation period in children accounts for 9-12 days while it is 14-18 days for adults. Patients are contagious one week before the manifestation of symptoms and 9-10 days since the first signs of the disease.
The patient becomes contagious especially with the inflammation of the salivary glands and has to be separated from the community.
Mumps virus is very dangerous for pregnancy as it can lead to miscarriages or intrauterine death especially during the 14th-16th weeks.
What Can Make Me Think That It Is Mumps?
The first symptom your child may complain about is difficulty in swallowing and eating. The swelling of the salivary glands will follow later. If you see the initial symptoms or suspect of having mumps, it is always best to get in touch with the doctor before the condition aggravates.
Mumps is a highly contagious airborne viral infection that causes a swelling in the salivary glands. The face of the affected individual distorts and appears to be “hamster-like” due to the inflammation of the salivary glands. Symptoms usually develop two to three weeks after the virus has infected an individual. Research has concluded that 20% of the infected people will not show any symptoms but can pass on the infection to others. However, if a person contracts mumps he/she becomes immune to future infections. There is no known cure for this viral infection although medication is provided to relieve the symptoms.
Mumps has been described by Hippocrates in ancient texts although the cause of the disease was unknown to the great healer. Later during 17th-19th centuries, there was an epidemic of mumps due to the poor hygiene on battlefields, which is why it is also called the "trench disease". In 1945, the mumps vaccine was discovered. This has decreased the occurrence of the disease substantially. Children are inoculated at an early age (nine months) to develop an artificial immunity against the disease.
The Most Common Symptoms In Children Are:
- The child develops a fever which is the normal reaction of the body to any infection. The body temperature rises up to 38-39 degrees. The child may complain of a mild headache.
- A pain may develop in the muscles and the joints when the body temperature rises.
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- The tonsils are pushed towards the side by the inflammation of the salivary glands. It can be clearly observed by checking the inside of the mouth.
- Your baby has difficulty while swallowing and eating.
- An earache due to the onset of parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears, submaxillary and sublingual glands are affected very rarely) which develops within the next 24 hours on one or both sides.
- The space between the earlobe and jaw angle disappears as it gets filled up with the tumescence (swelling) of the surrounding tissues accounting for the nickname of "hamster face".
The symptoms should be observed carefully before reaching to any conclusion.
The disease is highly contagious and prevention is the best cure. If you come in contact with an infected individual it is best to take all precautions like covering your mouth and nose. Wash your hands frequently and avoid direct contact with the patient.
If My Baby has a Swollen Neck, is it Always Mumps?
A swelling in the neck is not necessarily indicative of mumps. There are several conditions which might follow after the swelling of neck and painful salivary glands. The inflammation may be a result of injury, infection, accumulation of fluid or a tumor. Differential diagnosis of mumps is primarily performed with:
- Bacterial mumps is an illness which is caused by bacteria, not the virus as in the case of viral parotitis (mumps).
- The salivary stone disease is a very rare condition which occurs due to the genetic defect of the body's metabolic procedures. These stones are formed by the accumulation of calcium in the parotid gland. They start to interfere with the flow of saliva while growing in size which results in the inflammation and infection of the gland.
- Sarcoidosis is a severe illness which causes abnormal masses or inflammation in various organs of the body, mainly in the lungs and the lymph nodes. A swelling of the lymph nodes due to sarcoidosis can be confused with mumps.
- Tumors (malignant growth which can shoot metastasis in various parts of the body).
All the diseases mentioned above are not contagious and are very similar to mumps though they do not develop symptoms of intoxication namely, fever, fatigue and an acute onset of the condition. These are the distinguishing factors when deciding whether it is mumps or something else.
However, if you suspect that any of the symptoms may indicate mumps, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
The doctor will check the body temperature and also take samples of blood, urine and saliva to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to seek professional medical advice if you feel like your baby has any of the symptoms of mumps.