Minnesota typically reports less than 10 mumps cases annually, according to Department of Health statistics since 1995, with a couple of outlier years due to outbreaks. However, during the first three months of 2016, state health officials have already reported 16 confirmed and probable mumps cases.
Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the saliva glands located between the ear and the jaw. It is spread from direct and indirect contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets, which can be transmitted by sneezing and coughing.
Mumps can normally be spread three days before symptoms appear through about five days after. Mumps is most contagious 48 hours before the illness begins.
Symptoms for mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. Up to 30 percent of all people infected with the mumps virus do not have symptoms. Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) is a common symptom in males after puberty. Rarely, swelling of the spinal cord and brain (encephalitis) occurs.
The best way to prevent mumps is to be fully immunized. Persons who have mumps should stay at home for five days after swelling starts so that they do not spread it to others.
Mumps vaccine is contained in the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Two doses of the vaccine are needed for long-term protection.
Minnesota state law requires that all children 15 months of age or older, in child care settings or schools, be vaccinated against mumps or have a legal exemption.
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