Tennessee Health Dept. warns about rising mumps cases
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WDEF) – A rise in the number of mumps cases to our west has Tennessee health officials reminding parents about the vaccine.
The Tennessee Department of Health is citing 2,400 suspected or confirmed mumps cases now in Arkansas.
“We are talking about this now because we are obviously worried about the significant rise in mumps cases in neighboring states and want everyone to be sure they are up to date on immunizations before it’s too late,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.
“Mumps is a viral illness acquired through close contact with an infected person. It is usually a mild condition in children but can have more serious complications for adults. We should all be sure we and the people we care about are current on immunizations.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all adults born in 1957 or more recently who have not had mumps receive at least one dose of the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR vaccine in their lifetimes.
They recommend two doses for adults attending college, working in a healthcare facility or traveling internationally.
“We strongly encourage children more than one year of age and adults under 60 who do not know if they had mumps as a child and do not recall receiving mumps vaccine at some point in their lives to get the MMR vaccine,” said TDH State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD. “Hundreds of millions of MMR vaccine doses have been provided and its safety record is excellent.
“While few vaccines provide 100 percent protection against illness, two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 88 percent effective in preventing mumps,” Jones said. “That’s an impressive preventive measure to keep you and your family healthy, and to help prevent the disease from spreading to others who may not be able to be immunized.”
Talk to your doctor about whether your or your family need the MMR vaccine.
But there are things you can do without the vaccine.
Frequent hand washing can help prevent mumps. Those who suspect they are infected should stay home until their healthcare provider informs them they are no longer able to spread the virus.
“Complications from mumps can include encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, and meningitis, which is inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and the spinal cord,” said Dreyzehner. “It can also affect ovaries, testicles and other parts of the body, causing permanent damage in some people. The best protection against mumps is proper vaccination with the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR vaccine.”
Two doses of MMR vaccine are required for school and college students in Tennessee. MMR vaccine is available at all county health departments to any individual for whom protection from these diseases is desired. Certain insurance companies may be billed. Sliding scale fees based on income are available to people without insurance. Call your local health department for an appointment and for answers to questions you may have. To find a health department near you, visit http://tn.gov/health/topic/localdepartments.