Everyday we are reporting mumps outbreaks and cases from states, universities and colleges and grade schools in the United States, much more than usually seen in recent years. And the 2016 mumps data year-to-date shows that we haven’t seen this many cases in a decade.
Through Nov. 19, the provisional mumps total reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is almost 3,600. This numbers dwarfs recent years, including 2010 when 2,612 cases were reported for the entire year.
In fact, the only year reporting more cases in the US in the 21st century is 2006 when the federal health agency saw in excess of 6,500 cases. That year the resurgence predominantly affected college-aged students living in the Midwest, with outbreaks occurring on many different Midwestern college campuses.
So far this year, 45 states and the District of Columbia reported mumps infections to the CDC. Six states have reported more than 100 cases this year: Arkansas (which has reported well more than 1,000 cases), Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts and Oklahoma.
Like 2006, this year is also associated with outbreaks at colleges and universities to include the State University of New York at Buffalo,Indiana University, University of Kentucky, University of San Diego, University of Southern Maine, Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, University of Missouri, Tufts University, SUNY New Paltz and Harvard University, among others.
A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team, or living in a dormitory with a person who has mumps. Also, certain behaviors that result in exchanging saliva, such as kissing or sharing utensils, cups, lipstick or cigarettes, might increase spread of the virus.
MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. Two doses of the vaccine are 88% (range: 66 to 95%) effective at protecting against mumps; one dose is 78% (range: 49% to 92%) effective.
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