Mumps (cont.)

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What is the history of mumps?

Medical historians believe that documentation of a clinical illness consistent with mumps dates back to Greco-Roman times. The first effective vaccine against mumps was introduced in 1948 and used from 1950-1978. Unfortunately, this vaccine strain had limited long-term immune memory effectiveness. The current strain used in the United States and worldwide provides over 80% long-term immunity. The current childhood mumps immunization schedule recommends vaccination at 1 and 4 years of age. The mumps vaccine is commonly administered as part of a combination vaccine (MMR) also providing protection against measles and rubella (German measles).

What causes mumps? How is mumps transmitted?

Mumps virus is a single strand of RNA housed inside a two-layered envelope that provides the virus its characteristic immune signature. Only one type of mumps virus has been demonstrated to exist (in contrast to the many virus types that can cause the common cold).

Mumps is highly contagious and has a rapid spread among members living in close quarters. The virus most commonly is spread directly from one person to another via respiratory droplets. Less frequently, the respiratory droplets may land on fomites (sheets, pillows, clothing) and then be transmitted via hand-to-mouth contact after touching such items. The incubation period from exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms is approximately 14-18 days. Viral shedding is short lived and a patient should be isolated from other susceptible individuals for the first five days following the onset of swelling of the salivary (parotid) glands.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2014

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