Myths about the Mumps

There has been a sharp increase in the number of cases of mumps disease in the last two years connected to the scandal over the MMR vaccine which took place around twenty years ago.  Many children were not given the Measles Mumps and Rubella immunization which includes the mumps vaccine and are now students at colleges and Universities which explains the uplift in the cases of both measles and mumps infection.

What are the signs of mumps?

Mumps infection has a classic presentation of swellings just in front of the ears leading to the name ‘hamster face’ to describe the illness.  This is actually swelling of the parotid glands and one or both may become inflamed and swollen.  This can make it difficult to open the mouth to eat, drink and talk.  Fever, headaches, and earache will often accompany mumps infection and the disease can be more serious for older people.

In rare cases, some other parts of the body can swell up and these can include the pancreas, the brain, the ovaries, and the testes, although it is a common myth that mumps can make men sterile – it doesn’t.

What is the treatment for mumps?

Mumps disease is usually treated at home with support medication like Ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation and plenty of rest.  Cold compresses can be used topically to ease swelling below the ears.

How to prevent mumps disease?

There was a large outbreak in 2005 in England and Wales with 43,000 cases and whilst levels of the disease have not been that high since, outbreaks of mumps infections continue to occur annually.

The mumps element of the MMR vaccine is not as effective as the immunizations for the other two diseases which is why it is important to have two doses of the mumps vaccine.  Mumps disease is easily spread like coughs and colds and is caught by people who have never had the mumps vaccine or who have only had one dose.

Miles Pharmacy offers the mumps vaccine at our vaccination clinic