A recent outbreak of mumps in the Los Angeles County area prompted health officials to release an official alert last Thursday. The alert, released by county’s department of public health, stated that the “majority of these cases are among MSM (men who have sex with men) but some are women and heterosexual men with social connections to men who have sex with men (MSM) cases. Most transmissions appear to have occurred at large venues such as athletic clubs, bars, theaters and nightclubs.”
The alert describes the mumps as a “highly infectious and spreads through congregate living and social settings causing sporadic outbreaks.” It goes on to say that the “majority of cases have had no documentation of complete vaccination; however, some cases were fully vaccinated. Many of the L.A. County mumps cases were initially misdiagnosed.” It also states that many of the misdiagnosed cases were due to false-negative lab results, but as of now, the reason for the erroneous test results is not known.
“Mumps is highly infectious and is transmitted by contact with airborne respiratory secretions or saliva or through fomites (objects that can carry the virus, such as clothing or furniture),” the alert states. “A major factor contributing to outbreaks of mumps is being in a crowded environment. Also, certain behaviors that result in exchanging saliva, such as kissing or sharing utensils, cups, lipstick or cigarettes, may increase the spread of the virus.”
What are the symptoms of the mumps?
“Mumps typically begins with a few days of fever, headache, myalgia, fatigue, and anorexia followed by development of salivary gland swelling, pain, and tenderness,” states the alert. This gland swelling usually results in visibly swollen cheek and neck area, which the virus is known for. “In vaccinated patients, symptoms may be non-specific.” In rare cases if untreated, mumps can lead to sterility in men.
Is there a treatment for mumps?
There is no cure for mumps, only supportive treatment (bed rest, fluids, and fever reduction), says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Are those living with HIV at increased risk?
No, but they should get vaccinated. Those living with HIV have about the same chances of getting the mumps, but the CDC strongly recommends that those with a CD4 count of 200 or more get vaccinated right away.
Who else should be vaccinated?
Pretty much everyone. The CDC recommends all children get vaccinated for mumps, as well as any adults not vaccinated in childhood.