Mumps virus infection and how to treat it
January 19 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Mumps is an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus. It can be as mild as a fever and swollen glands, or severe enough to cause deafness, testicular inflammation and encephalitis.


Vaccine risk
Vaccines are crucial and necessary, but they do have a small risk which does not outweigh the benefits.

Vaccine. 2015. Risk of febrile seizure after measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine: A systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched PubMed, Embase, BIOSIS Previews, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library and other databases through 12 December 2014.  A total of thirty-nine studies were included. First MMRV vaccine dose in children aged 10-24 months was associated with an elevated risk of seizure or febrile seizure.


Acta Virol. 2013. Overview of measles and mumps vaccine: origin, present, and future of vaccine production. Measles and mumps are common viral childhood diseases that can cause serious complications. Vaccination remains the most efficient way to control the spread of these viruses. The manufacturing capability for viral vaccines produced in embryonated hen eggs and conventional/classical cell substrates, such as chicken embryo fibroblast or primary dog kidney cell substrates, is no longer sufficient. This limitation can be overcome by utilizing other recognized cell substrates such as Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK), Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO), Vero (monkey origin) cells, MRC-5 (human diploid) or as an alternative, introducing new cell substrates of human or avian origin. A very important factor in vaccine production is the safety and immunogenicity of the final vaccine, where the proper choice of cell substrate used for virus propagation is made. All substrates used in vaccine production must be fully characterized to avoid the contamination of hidden unknown pathogens which is difficult to achieve in primary cell substrates.


Mumps made an alarming comeback in the United States in 2006. The outbreak of mumps viral disease came despite the widespread use of a second dose of a mumps vaccine, produced by Merck, beginning in 1990. Eighty-four percent of the people between the ages of 18 and 24 who became ill in the outbreak had received the second recommended dose. There were no deaths from the mumps virus infections. But there were 6,584 cases nationwide and 85 hospitalizations, most concentrated in eight midwestern states and on college campuses. The 2006 outbreak was the first account of a large-scale mumps epidemic characterized by two-dose vaccine failure.


Mumps vaccine
The MMR is a 3-in-1 vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles), which is usually administered between 12 and 15 months of age and again between 4 and 6 years of age. In general vaccination required before a child can be admitted to school.

Mumps symptoms
Mumps can give a number of symptoms which include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite; 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.

Mumps Vaccine

In the United States, mumps vaccine is delivered in combination with measles and rubella vaccines. Although the two-dose strategy ensures that a high proportion of those who are vaccinated will be immune to mumps, the seroconversion rate after two doses of vaccine is estimated to be 88 percent. Thus, the proportion of persons in a U.S. community who are susceptible to mumps is greater than the proportion who are susceptible to measles, and outbreaks, when they occur, will be larger.

Mumps Outbreak in UK

More than 50,000 cases of mumps have been identified in the United Kingdom during the past few years, and more than 2500 cases have already been identified in a U.S. outbreak this year. About half the persons affected in the U.S. outbreak had been vaccinated, and most were young adults. Although mumps is a less severe disease than measles, it does cause substantial illness, including parotitis, orchitis, and aseptic meningitis. These outbreaks demonstrate the potential for rapid dissemination of respiratory pathogens, facilitated by air travel and crowded conditions.


Outbreak in USA
More than 6,000 cases of mumps have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006, reinforcing the importance of the MMR vaccine, particularly in high-risk populations, such as healthcare workers and college students. The bulk of cases, 84 percent, came from just 6 states. Iowa reported the most, followed by Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The average patient age was 22 years and 63 percent of patients were female.