Thanks to vaccines, we’ve managed to all but eliminate many childhood illnesses.
The polio vaccine, for instance, brought worldwide cases of polio down from 350,000 in the 1970s to just 74 in 2015. Measles, mumps, and rubella were all considered illnesses children had to suffer through until the MMR vaccine was created.
Mumps in particular spreads among people in close quarters, and widespread vaccination created a herd immunity that brought the number of cases down by 99 percent, according to CNN. Unfortunately, Washington state is experiencing an outbreak right now that has left officials concerned.
Mumps begins with flu-like symptoms of fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Then salivary glands swell, creating a swollen jaw and puffy cheeks.
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In the 1960s, cases of mumps were reported at rates around 186,000 per year.
In fact, it was considered a childhood illness that many had to simply suffer through. It’s easily transferrable through kissing or hugging, so mumps spreads quickly.
Complications of mumps, especially in adult patients, include deafness and inflammation of the brain, ovaries, breasts, and testicles.
“The best protection against mumps is the MMR vaccine,” said Dave Johnson, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Health.
The CDC recommends that children get their first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at four to six years old. In people who receive just one shot, the vaccine is less effective.
Washington is currently experiencing an outbreak of mumps with more than 228 cases reported. Mumps outbreaks are on the rise nationwide.
If you suspect someone of having mumps, you should avoid kissing, hugging, and other close contact. Anyone feeling sick should contact their health care providers and local health departments.
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