In Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed a growing concern over an outbreak of mumps in the Hasidic community (Jewish). Most of the recent cases have been in the greater New York area, but the timing is not particularly good. With the coming of Passover (March 30 through April 5), this means more time with family and friends as well as an opportunity for travel across the United States and the world. This kind of travel and social contact increases the risk of spreading the disease within your own community or transmitting it to another community.
Mumps is a viral disease involving the parotid and other salivary glands. It causes an often painful swelling in these glands and a rash may also develop. Typically, the disease is self-limiting and it will run its course on its own. Other than controlling the symptoms with painkillers, there is no specific treatment.
Mumps is contagious and it can be spread from person to person through respiratory secretions. Infected individuals are contagious for about 6 days before symptoms start, through about 9 days after symptoms start. As an infected individual coughs or sneezes, tiny drops of the aerosol can enter the mouth, nose or eyes of another person. The virus can also be spread by sharing food or drinks, and it will survive on surfaces such as tables and countertops that allow it to spread further.
The most common way of preventing infection is through vaccination. The vaccine can be given separately, or as a component of the MMR vaccination, which also protects against measles and rubella. In the United States, the MMR vaccination is being replaced by the MMRV which also provides protection against chickenpox.
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