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As mumps cases in Illinois rise, state public health director encourages vaccination and education          Send a link to a friend

Know the symptoms and how to protect yourself and your family

[APRIL 17, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, announced Friday that Illinois has received reports of 72 cases of mumps: 35 confirmed and 37 probable cases so far this year.

Due to the unusually high number of cases in the state and an outbreak in Iowa totaling around 600 cases, Whitaker is reminding people to continue good health practices and check vaccination records to make sure that both adults and children have been vaccinated.

"Mumps is about as contagious as the flu, so it's important to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing; wash your hands often; don't drink from the same glass or share the same eating utensils as another person," Whitaker said. "If you know someone who has mumps or suspect someone may have the disease, restrict contact with them as much as possible. These are some simple, common-sense things you can do to avoid getting the mumps."

Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands and is caused by a virus. Symptoms include swelling of the glands close to the jaw, fever, headache and muscle aches. Children who get mumps may develop a mild meningitis, which is an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, and sometimes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Mumps also can result in permanent hearing loss. Serious complications also can include swelling of the testicles or ovaries.

Treatment options include aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and time.

Vaccination is still the best option for avoiding mumps. Schools require entering students to be vaccinated at least once for mumps. It is recommended that children be vaccinated on or after their first birthday. The mumps vaccine is contained in what is called the MMR vaccine, for measles, mumps and rubella. Children entering school are required to have two doses of the measles vaccination, and because measles and mumps are both included in the MMR, children receive a second vaccination for mumps as well.

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Adults are likely to be immune to mumps if blood tests show they are immune to mumps; if they are males born before 1957; or if they are females born before 1957 who are sure they are not having more children, have already had rubella vaccine or have had a positive rubella test. People born before 1957 are likely to have had mumps during childhood, but it is possible they did not.

Adults should get the MMR vaccine if they are students beyond high school, work in a hospital or other medical facility, travel internationally, are passengers on a cruise ship, or if they are females of childbearing age and have not been vaccinated before.

"Persons with mumps are usually considered infectious from about three days before the symptoms begin until about nine days after the onset of the swelling of the salivary glands," Whitaker said. "Because physicians have not been seeing a lot of cases for many years now, this is a good time for physicians to refresh their memory about the symptoms, diagnosis and importance of reporting mumps to the local health department."

The average incubation period for mumps is about 18 days.

At this time, the cause of the outbreak in Iowa, and the increased number of cases in Illinois, is not known. There are, however, three Illinois cases with connections to Iowa.

More information on mumps is available at

[Illinois Department of Public Health news release]


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