50 cases of mumps reported in Johnson County since July 1

The mumps virus (paramyxovirus) -- image via Sanofi Pasteur
The mumps virus (paramyxovirus) — image via Sanofi Pasteur

At least 60 cases of mumps have been reported in the state of Iowa since July 1, according to the Johnson County Public Health Department. Of those 60 cases, 50 were reported in Johnson County, and 40 of those cases involved students at the University of Iowa, says JCPHD Deputy Director Tricia Kitzmann.

While the county’s public health offices have been working with the UI to control the spread of the disease — a viral infection affecting the salivary glands — common sense is the best barrier to infection.

Which is to say: If you have not done so already, run (don’t walk!) to the nearest clinic, and get the dang MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) vaccine.

Mumps is spread by via droplets of mucus from the nose or throat of an infected person, which means literally anyone who breathes is at risk for contracting the disease if they haven’t been properly vaccinated. Additionally, while the measles and rubella components of the MMR vaccine are almost 100 percent effective at preventing infection in the inoculated, the mumps portion of the shot retains only a 90 percent efficiency, which makes herd immunity — a population’s general immunity to a disease based on the acquired immunity of a high proportion of said population — absolutely essential.

The MMR vaccine is an exceedingly safe, two-part injection, once speciously accused of causing autism in a thoroughly de-bunked “study” by the fraudulent and now completely discredited Andrew Wakefield. Mumps’ actual, real-life common complications include: Orchitis (painful swelling of the testicles), oophoritis (painful swelling of the ovaries) and, if the mumps virus spreads into the meninges (the outer protective layer of the brain), viral meningitis. One out of every twenty cases of mumps leads to acute pancreatitis. Hearing loss and encephalitis, an infection of the brain itself, are among mumps’ rarer complications.

“You should wash your hands frequently and cover your cough if you’re sick,” Kitzmann says, “and stay home from work or class — even though that’s hard for college students.” And, if you can’t remember whether or not you got both the first and second shot in the MMR series, a simple solution rests at hand: Get another shot.

Once more, with feeling! Get. Another. Shot.

“There is no risk to getting an additional dose [of the MMR vaccine],” Kitzmann says. “In fact, we would encourage that.”

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