United States has recorded the largest outbreak of mumps over the past two decades. The current outbreak, the largest in this country since 1988 , is believed to have begun in late 2005 at a university in eastern Iowa. The federal officials reported yesterday that the outbreak is continuing to spread.
According to latest information from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,000 cases reported so far, most of them, about 815, have been in Iowa. The remaining cases have been reported in seven other states -- Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director, said at a news conference Wednesday, that right now the condition is very unstable, and that they are not yet able to reliably predict where this will lead. She explained that the disease has been reported largely among people in their late teens and early 20s. Stating that this is the largest outbreak of mumps that seen in the country in more than 20 years, Dr. Julie Gerberding, said that there have been more than 1,000 cases reported from more than eight states. She also said that there are ongoing investigations in seven more states.
Dr Gerberding noted that, as is the nature of mumps and the continued progression of the outbreak, officials are expecting more cases in more states. There has been a vaccine for mumps since 1967 that has largely eliminated frequent outbreaks of the disease, she said. She explained that though mumps is not usually a serious disease, but in some people it can have serious complications. Dr Gerberding said Up to 10% of people with mumps develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and others can develop an inflammation of the testes, which can lead to infertility. Mumps has also been associated with spontaneous abortion and deafness.
According to the CDC the mumps virus can cause a acute viral illness the disease typically causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, followed by swelling of the salivary glands. Dr Gerberding said that the best protection against mumps is the vaccine. Explaining that there is confusion going around right now as to whether or not this outbreak is related to some problem with the vaccine, she emphasized that as of now they have absolutely no information that there is any problem with the vaccine.
Gerberding explained that, despite the availability of the vaccine, people in the age group who are getting sick may not have had the recommended two doses of the vaccine thereby not completely vaccinated, leaving them susceptible to the disease. Dr Gerberding said that it is a good vaccine though not perfect and about 10% of people who get both doses of the vaccine may be still remain susceptible to mumps.
She stated that the CDC would be sending another 25,000 doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to Iowa, the state hit hardest by the outbreak. She also said that Merck & Co., which markets the vaccine, would be providing another 25,000 doses to the CDC for distribution to other states.
She recommended that people should get vaccinated especially if they haven't had the two doses. She said that children who are in the school or teens who are in college, and especially for health-care workers should make sure that they had received their second dose or do so immediately.
Critics say there may be a problem with the longevity of immunity offered by the current vaccine. Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Centre, said that this isn't the first time that there has been a problem with a vaccine not being effective, she explained that there was a problem with the mumps, measles, rubella vaccine in the late '80s and early '90s that caused the CDC to say that kids had to have a second dose of it.
Dr Gerberding said the CDC is studying the effectiveness of the vaccine. But she said at this point it appears that the number of cases among vaccinated people is what would be expected from a vaccine that is believed to not work in about 10 percent of the people who receive two doses.