Even vaccination doesn’t fully protect from the mumps, as the latest outbreak shows us.
Health officials have confirmed two people from Washington have been infected with mumps in connection with an outbreak that started last fall at the University of Idaho.
A King County woman had received both recommended doses of the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine.
A Snohomish County man had one dose.
“Gosh, that’s quite scary actually,” Polly Marie-Henry said. “I wasn’t aware of that.”
Last fall, the NHL was hit with a mumps outbreak. Now, the outbreak in Idaho has spilled over into Washington state.
“We should be concerned,” Dr. John Lynch at Harborview Medical Center said.
Like the measles, mumps -- a once-deadly disease -- had been nearly eradicated. Also like the measles, you get protection from the same MMR vaccine.
But it's not foolproof.
“No vaccine is perfect,” Dr Lynch explained. “It doesn't protect everyone who gets it.”
According to the CDC, the MMR vaccine is not 100 percent effective at protecting against mumps. Both doses of the MMR vaccine offer 88 percent effectiveness, while one dose offers 78 percent effectiveness.
Mumps is highly contagious, easily spread in close-contact settings.
Sports teams like in the NHL and university settings can be the perfect breeding ground for mumps.
“You can get it after the person's left the room, if you touch their contaminated dish or fork or soda can. There’s saliva on the surface and then you touch your mouth,” Dr. Lynch explained.
You may be contagious for up to 25 days before you even know you're sick.
Dr. Lynch said high vaccination rates should help limit the spread of the outbreak.
But we could see large outbreaks in areas with higher numbers of unvaccinated people.
“I find that frustrating,” Peder Teigen said. “I don’t understand why people wouldn’t vaccinate. I believe it’s based on faulty science.”
Symptoms of the mumps are fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face.
Dr. Lynch recommends people stay up to date on their vaccinations and make sure they've gotten both doses of the MMR vaccine.