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Mumps Outbreak in Boston

Boston Mumps Outbreak

There is another outbreak of a “preventable” childhood disease. This one is not measles, but mumps. There are four Northeastern University students in Boston who are suspected of having mumps. Their symptoms are consistent with mumps, but the laboratory results are not back yet to confirm the diagnosis.

Mumps is caused by a virus and spreads through infected respiratory tract secretions (coughs and sneezes). Typically people need to be within 3 to 6 feet of an infected person who coughs or sneezes to become infected. A person who has the mumps is considered to be infectious from three days before until five days after the swelling of the salivary glands.

Typical symptoms of the mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. This is then followed by swelling of salivary glands. The parotid salivary glands (which are located within your cheek, near your jaw line, below your ears) are most frequently affected. This swelling gives the appearance of a chipmunk.

After being exposed to someone with the mumps, it may take up to 16 to 18 days for the symptoms to appear. Serious complications are rare, but include

* inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis)

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* inflammation of the testicles (orchitis)

* inflammation of the ovaries and/or breasts (oophoritis and mastitis)

* spontaneous abortion in pregnant women

* deafness, usually permanent

The Boston Public Health Commission is urging any unvaccinated students and staff to get immunized. While the mumps vaccine does not give protection in 100% of those immunized, it does in 85-90% of those who receive the proper immunizations.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention