publication date: Apr 15, 2010
author/source: David Salisbury
How would I recognise whether my child has mumps?
Mumps can lead to fever, headache, and painful, swollen glands in the face, neck and jaw. It's a mild infection though, there's no need to be worried about it is there?
Although some of the symptoms are mild, mumps can result in permanent deafness,
viral meningitis and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Much rarer, but very painful complications
of mumps include inflammation of the pancreas
and of the ovaries
and testicles.Pregnant women
who develop mumps during the first 12 to 16 weeks
of pregnancy (the first trimester) have a slightly higher risk of miscarriage
, but there is no evidence
that mumps can cause deformities
in an unborn child.How infectious is mumps?
The virus is about as infectious as flu
and is transmitted by direct contact
with saliva or droplets from the saliva of an infected person
. Mumps is also spread through the air on tiny droplets of moisture
that are expelled when someone coughs or sneezes
and these droplets are breathed in
by someone elseHow great is the risk of me catching it?
There were 2886 confirmed mumps cases
in England as reported by the Health Protection Agency
at the beginning of 2009; an increase
of more than twice that reported
towards the end of 2008
The cases continue to be predominantly
in young adults (people born between 1980 and 1990
) who would not have been routinely offered MMR vaccination
in childhood or have only received one dose
.Why are teenagers most susceptible to the disease?
Most of the cases of mumps
have occurred in adolescents
or young adults
because they were too old
to be offered MMR
when it was introduced in 1988
or to have had a second dose
when this was introduced in 1996
. As children, they had not been previously exposed to natural mumps infection
and therefore remain susceptible to the disease.
In late 2004
, there was an increase in mumps
that was linked to those born between 1980 and 1987
– with most of the outbreaks
occurring in higher education institutions
in schools, colleges and universities are particularly at risk
of catching mumps as it is easily spread in areas where there are large populations of unvaccinated young adults
and within areas where young people are living in close proximity. How can I prevent this disease affecting me and my family?
There is an effective vaccine
against mumps: the MMR jab,
which is best received in two doses
, one just after your child's first birthday,
and the other when they are three
This schedule provides the best protection
; however, where doses are missed
it is possible to have them later.
Before the MMR vaccine,
which also protects against measles
, was introduced, 1200 people
a year actually went into hospital
as a result of the disease
; mumps was also the most common cause of viral meningitis
for children under 15. It is never too late
to be immunised with the MMR jab, so visit your GP to find out if your teen's jabs
are up to date.
What if I have a teenager who missed the jab?
Teenagers can be protected
against mumps by having two doses
of the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccination
is not just for children and if young adults
aren't immunised with it, they are at risk
of getting mumps.
It's never too late
for unprotected teenagers and young adults to get immunised
. Teens are advised to check they have had two doses
of the MMR jab, particularly before heading off to college or university
. Anyone up to the age of 18
who hasn't had the immunisation
should arrange it through their GP.
Individuals who already are in higher education
can get in touch with their campus GP
for further information on mumps
and the MMR vaccine
.I don't remember if my teenager had the jab, what shall I do?
If teens don't know
whether they've had the MMR vaccine
, having another dose won't do
any harm, so they should arrange vaccination
through their GP. The most important
thing is that individuals have had the full two doses
so that they are properly immunised