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Mumps detected in Kansas; number of cases growing each year

Mumps

You may have heard recently that there has been cases of the mumps in Kansas.

While it is unusual to see cases of mumps, each year the number of cases are growing due to people not being vaccinated against the mumps.

Mumps is a disease caused by a virus. It’s the type of virus that can be very highly contagious, spread among household contact, or people who cough and sneeze around each other.

The biggest outbreaks we typically see are on college campuses where we have a lot of people living together in close quarters.

Even people who have been vaccinated can get the mumps, but it may not be as severe. The mumps virus also only exists in humans, which means that if we get everyone vaccinated, we could potentially eliminate the ability to carry it and spread it to others.

What if you have it?

When someone has the mumps virus, there’s nothing that we can do to shorten the illness other than supportive care. The symptoms people will typically experience are cough, cold, congestion symptoms similar to an upper respiratory infection for about 5-7 days. Then the classic condition will involve severe swelling of the glands in the cheeks and neck. The swelling is very uncomfortable and in some instances can make it difficult to swallow or eat or drink.

There are a couple of rare complications which can include encephalitis, which is severe swelling and inflammation of the brain, and in males, significant swelling of a testicle. Most men who have this complication don’t become sterile, but there is a very rare possibility of that happening.

It can take up to 21 days to manifest the symptoms after being exposed to the virus. Once the person has swelling of the glands in the cheeks and neck, they are strongly encouraged to be home bound for five days to prevent further spread of the virus.

It’s much better to have this illness as a child than as an adult. Symptoms seem to be much more severe as an adult and a higher risk of complications can happen as an adult. 

About Amy Seery MD

Amy Seery, MD, is a pediatrician with Via Christi Clinic and a faculty member of the Via Christi Family Medicine Residency program.