History and Evolution of Mumps

Mumps is one of the most contagious diseases in history. Due to the mumps virus (MuV) which is usually airborne, it may spread rapidly among individuals. The development of themumps vaccine halted the prevalence of the disease since becoming available to the public in the 1980s. The UK, however, recorded an increase in mumps cases in 2019 and 2020 when most children who missed their vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s began university.The Mumps Vaccination proved to be effective in limiting the spread of this viral disease, but learning more about the mumps evolutioncan help avoid the resurgence of widespread mumps infection in the present day.  

 Mumps Over the Years 

The History of Mumps can be traced as far back as the 5th Century BC when Hippocrates recorded the first description of the disease. 

The father of medicine wrote about a mumps outbreak on the island of Thasos in Greece. The incident happened around 410BC. According to Hippocrates’ detailed documentation which can be found in the Corpus Hippocraticum in the first volume of the “Epidemics,” the patients had swelling near the ears. Some of the patients had swelling on either side of the ears, while most on both sides. He also said that the inflammation went away without leaving any critical damage. 

While there were studies about the disease during the 19th and 20th centuries, its viral aetiology was only discovered and recorded by Ernest W. Goodpasture and Claud D. Johnson in 1934. 

The pair discovered that  infected rhesus monkeys have specimens of the virus in their saliva. It helped them discover that this virus was the cause of mumps. Their findings allowed new research opportunities which helped develop the vaccine to avoid further spread of the disease. 

 In 1945, the mumps virus was finally isolated with the inactivated vaccine to fight the disease first developed in 1948. By March 30, 1967, the US FDA granted a license to the vaccine created by Maurice Hilleman called Mumpsvax. He created it using the virus taken from his daughter, Jeryl Lynn. 

By 1971, Hilleman developed the combined Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine while working with the Merck Institute of Therapeutic Research in the US. 


Mumps Vaccine-Autism Controversy

In 1998, British medical researcher Andrew Wakefield published his research  in the Lancet. The research claimed that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and the spread of autism. It caused the public to lose confidence in the vaccine and many parents opted not to let their children receive it. But a US court refuted Wakefield’s claims in 2009, saying that there was no evidence to support the claims. 

By 2010, more researchers revealed that Wakefield’s claims were dishonest and manipulated. A thorough investigation conducted by the British General Medical Council found Wakefield guilty of dishonesty and other charges.

 UK MMR Vaccine Today

After the Wakefield controversy concluded, the British government reported the highest MMR vaccination rates in 2013, with 93% of children inoculated with the vaccine. Miles Pharmacy offers the Mumps Vaccine to those who did not receive the MMR vaccine as part of the NHS Childhood immunisation schedule offered to children in the UK, or adults who have missed a booster dose. Please contact us for more information on how to receive yours today.