Mumps Hits Iowa In A Big Way, May Have 245 Cases So Far

Main Category: Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses News
Article Date: 01 Apr 2006 - 16:00pm (PDT)

Iowa has been hit by a Mumps outbreak, the worst in the USA since the late eighties. So far, authorities say there are 245 probable cases. For an 'outbreak' to be declared there need to be over five cases within a limited area.

According to the CDC, it is the same mumps strain as the one that has infected thousands of people in the UK.

More than one third of the state of Iowa is affected, say authorities there.

Iowa, in a typical year, would not expect to see more than five patients come down with the mumps.

Neighbouring states, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska are bracing themselves as the infection spreads.

So far, 23% of all cases are among college students. Where this outbreak originated from is still being investigated.

The USA has not had a serious mumps outbreak since 1988, when 269 cases were confirmed in Kansas.

What is Mumps?

Mumps is caused by a virus called 'the mumps virus'. It is a highly contagious disease which infects one or more of the salivary glands.

Mumps is spread through direct contact with saliva and discharges from the nose and throat of an infected person. Sneezing and coughing spreads mumps. In some cases people have become infected just by talking to someone who has mumps.

Symptoms of Mumps

Swelling of the cheeks and jaw, often severe. Soreness around jaw area. Pain in the neck or ear can be one of the symptoms of the onset of mumps. Many infected people, about 30%, show no symptoms at all.

It can take from 12 days to 3 weeks for an infected person to start to show symptoms.


15-25% of males experience swelling of the testicles - this, in some cases, can lead to lower fertility if an adult male is infected. Encephalitis and meningitis are also complications. Severe complications are not common.

What should an infected person do?

Drinks lots of water, rest, take medications to control fever. If you have an infected child, keep him/her away from school for nine days (from when swellings first appear).

How can I protect myself from catching mumps?

There is a vaccine.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today

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