The Iowa Department of Public Health announced late last week that the state’s epidemic of mumps is continuing to grow. The last count was 360 cases, and Union County public-health nurse Wilma Perrin Naber says she’s helped confirm the first case in her part of southwest Iowa.
Naber says Iowa’s outbreak is the largest the nation has seen in recent years, so of course everyone’s interested in us. She says they hope to get it stopped and recommend you check your immunization records. If you’ve gotten two doses of the MMR measles-mumps-rubella shot, or if you’ve had mumps, you should be immune.
It isn’t going to do any good to go and get another vaccination if you’ve been exposed, the nurse says, but if you catch mumps, go isolate yourself for a while and get over it. Naber says she’s heard word-of-mouth reports that there are more cases than the one confirmed by lab tests, but can’t comment yet on that. She’s not surprised there are more.
Statewide, the majority of cases first appeared in college students in their teens and twenties, but since then it’s crossing into pretty much all age groups. The Centers for Disease Control reports the vaccine does provide a high level of protection, confirmed by blood tests to measure immunity after people get their shots.
Naber says people need to remember vaccination doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the disease, since vaccines aren’t 100-percent effective. It will fail some people, though she says there’s a good protection rate with the vaccines available today.
The signs of mumps may be subtle and some people don’t get many symptoms. Achiness, fever and swelling especially of the salivary glands under the jaw are the “classical mumps” symptoms, though she says swelling in the neck, joints and other parts of the body are also a clue. She says anyone who discovers they have the mumps should stay home to recover and avoid exposing others to the virus.