U.S. mumps outbreak:
What you need to know


Congratulations on your PCS to the United States! Before you go, be
advised that portions of the American Midwest are experiencing a mumps
outbreak. States affected include Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri,
Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The UK is also experiencing an

While the risk for catching mumps is low, the following information may
be useful in helping to protect you and your family.
Cause: Viral infection of the salivary glands.

It is associated with fever, cheek swelling and respiratory
symptoms.  The testes, pancreas, brain and spinal cord can also be
affected. It is rarely fatal, though home care or possibly
hospitalization may be required. Nearly one-third of those infected
show no symptoms.

Transmission:  Spread by coughing and sneezing, airborne or
through direct contact with infected respiratory droplets or saliva.

The incubation period is 14 to 18 days from exposure to symptom onset.
The infectious period is from three days before symptoms until nine
days after symptom onset.

Signs/Symptoms: Fever, headache, muscle ache, and swelling of the glands close to the jaw.

Vaccination:  Children 12 to 15 months and then again at four to
six years will receive measles-mumps-rubella based on the recommended
Centers for Disease Control vaccination schedule. Adults do not need
MMR vaccine if born before 1957 or if they have already had two doses
of MMR, or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine.

Adults should get the MMR vaccine if they are not among the categories
listed above, and are a college student, trade school student or other
student beyond high school; work in a hospital or other medical
facility; travel internationally or are a passenger on a cruise ship.

The Air Force Surgeon General is considering adding mumps serology for
all accessions and MMR will be added as a suggested vaccine for all
adults without prior vaccination, disease or serological immunity. New
Air Force Airmen are exempt from MMR if their serum tests positive for
both measles and rubella immunity. Those with measles and rubella
immunity are assumed to have mumps immunity, though this will not be
the case 100 percent of the time.  
Treatment:  Supportive … but be sure to seek health care.  

Mumps is a Department of Defense reportable event and is tracked by the CDC.

Prevention: Normal personal protective measures should be used when
around people who may be infectious. These measures include social
distancing (staying at least three feet away from sick people) and
washing hands frequently. Stay up to date with local medical
events.  Contact your primary care manager to discuss your risk.
You may request and/or may be offered the MMR vaccine. In October 2005,
the CDC added MMR to the adult immunization schedule with the intent of
ensuring all adults are immune or immunized against MMR.  

In this specific mumps outbreak, 50 percent of the cases investigated
had been immunized and the age group most affected was college age
individuals 19 years and older. There is no indication the strain is
not covered by the existing mumps vaccine. At least 5 percent of those
vaccinated do not develop protective antibodies.

The source of the outbreak and why it has spread in unusually high
numbers compared to previous years is unknown but is being

In 2006, the incidence of mumps in DOD is not higher than usual.
Confirmed cases include a 23-year-old active-duty Army specialist at
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and a 27-year-old Air Force staff sergeant
stationed in the Pacific. Suspected cases include an 18-year-old Marine
from North Carolina and a 22-year-old Airman from Washington, D.C., and
two cases among dependents.

Call Ramstein’s Public Health office at 479-2234 for details.
(Courtesy of the 435th Aerospace Medical Squadron)