Mumps Vaccine and Illness Statistics, and Treatment Options
With three confirmed cases in a nearby town, mumps is a hot topic among moms this week in my area. Rather than be sucked into emotional arguments, I decided to take that energy and funnel it into something more productive.
Today we are going to be looking at statistics about how common mumps is, how effective the vaccine is, and whether mumps is something we need to be worrying about in the first place.
We looked at pertussis a few months ago, and the response was great, so I’m going to be looking into more vaccines over the course of 2016.
What is mumps?
Mumps is a virus that usually presents with fever, body aches, headaches, and swollen glands. Symptoms start between 12 and 25 days after infection and typically a complete recovery is made within 2-3 weeks. Mumps is a contagious virus spread through saliva or mucus, much like the common cold.
Many people do not know that they have mumps, and a lab test is needed to confirm because not everyone presents with symptoms (source: CDC) 20-30% of people diagnosed show no signs or symptoms of the disease (source).
What are the complications associated with mumps?
Complications from mumps can include swelling of the brain, swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal chord, and swelling of the testicles, swelling of the ovaries, and deafness. (source: CDC)
Clearly, swelling of critical parts of our body and deafness is cause for concern and something that we want to avoid. But how often does this occur? In the recent outbreaks of mumps in 2006, 2009, and 2010 (approx 10,000 reported cases total [source]) there were no deaths and no deafness as result of the mumps virus. (source: CDC)
How effective is the mumps vaccine?
Mumps is vaccinated for as part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) combination vaccine. On the current vaccine schedule it is given at age 12-15 months, 4-6 years, and college age (if immunity is now shown on lab tests).
There is controversy around this, including a major lawsuit filed against Merek about misrepresenting the effectiveness of the mumps vaccine (source).
But disregarding the controversy, the vaccine is estimated 88% effective after the first two doses (source: CDC), which means that more than 1 in 10 people fully vaccinated do not show protection against the disease.
Many outbreaks have shown to be primarily among vaccinated individuals – with 67.7% of cases in recent outbreaks in the Neatherlands occurring in people who were fully vaccinated (source).
What risks are associated with the mumps vaccine?
The mumps vaccine is part of the MMR combination vaccine. This is one of the more controversial vaccines, but it’s the measles portion of it that usually is the topic of the controversy (article).
In any case, looking at the ingredients in the vaccine itself is recommended. The vaccine contains live viruses, human and animal DNA, and antibiotics.
From the package insert from Merek (source), the MMRII vaccine contains:
- Measles Virus (live)
- Chick Embryo Culture
- Mumps Virus (2 strains, one live)
- Rubella (live)
- Human Diploid Lung Fibroblasts Culture (3 month gestation fetus, Caucasian, female)
- Medium 199 culture (buffered salt solution, amino acids, fetal bovine serum)
- Sucrose, phosphate, glutamate (MSG- acts as a stabilizer in this case), recumbant human albumin (human blood product), neomycin (antibiotic, cause of some allergic reactions)
- Sorbitol (stabalizer, naturally found in berries)
- Hydrolyzed gelatin stabilizer (pork product, stabilizer)
- Sodium phosphate (a salt)
What treatments are available for mumps?
Conventionally, there are no medical treatments for mumps and complete recover is usually completed within 2 weeks of presenting with symptoms. In general, children and adults are considered to be no longer contagious one week after diagnosis. (source)
Rest, over the counter pain relievers, and cool or warm compresses to ease the discomfort of swollen glands are recommended. (source)
Holistic treatment options include:
- Indian aloe topically to soothe swollen glands
- Ginger tea is antiviral and antiinflammatory
My overall conclusion
(sources linked in above sections)
Mumps is an uncomfortable condition, but very rarely causes serious complications, as we have see – there have been no serious complications in over 10K cases in the recent outbreaks.
In addition, we see that the vaccine against mumps is not very effective, with most of the people who test positive for mumps in recent outbreaks being fully vaccinated against it.
The ingredients in the mumps vaccine that cause me concern are the blood products, human DNA, antibiotic, and live viruses that are known to shed.
Long-term studies on young children being injected with human blood products or live viruses have not been done. If the risks for complications from potentially catching mumps were greater, they might outweigh the potential risks from the vaccine. But at this time, we choose not to vaccinate for mumps.
I am not completely anti-vaccine, and I always believe that a parent has to make the decisions for their own family based on their unique circumstances.
I hope that this has helped make it a little easier to be confident in your decision, no matter what you choose.