Mumps makes itself felt in the Heartland

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Have we become to complacent about our health?

We shouldn't be.

A few years ago, it was the West Nile virus.

The bird flu virus has been getting a lot of attention, because of the millions of people it possibly could kill -- if it becomes contagious on a person-to-person basis and not just the current bird-to-person route.

Now, the mumps are getting the attention. Nebraska has reported more than 100 cases in 18 counties, most of them in the southeastern part of the state. Iowa has had about 600 cases, and others have been reported in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

It's the first mumps epidemic in 20 years, and it's affecting mostly people 10 to 18, and 35 to 45 years of age.

But health experts are reporting cases as young as two and as old as in their 80s.

A couple of factors have combined to create the latest epidemic. One, people older than 65 probably are immune because they have had the disease. And, people younger than 30 probably have had the immunization that was developed in 1967 and is now part of the K-12 and college entry requirements.

Air travel is another important factor -- Iowa health officials have traced the latest outbreak to a pair of airline passengers who helped spread the disease.

Symptoms include:

* swelling of the parotoid gland in 90 percent of patients, and pain behind the lower jaw when chewing.

* fever.

* headache

* sore throat

* inflammation of the testicle.

The bad news is, there is no specific treatment of mumps, other than the application of intermittent ice or heat to the affected area, pain relief medication, warm salt water gargles, soft foods and extra fluids.

The good news, mumps is generally self-limiting and the outcome is generally good.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: