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Mumps Outbreaks In The US Raise Questions About Vaccine Effectiveness [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 03, 2017 01:23 AM EDT

The recent mumps outbreaks in the US did not spare people who have had the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine from getting infected, leading them to wonder about the effectiveness of vaccination.

This is a cause for worry among public health officials. Lately, some people refused all types of vaccination for fear that they pose danger to health, and the trend for mumps cases is not helping.

For the past few years, mumps outbreaks in the US have been large and have lasted for a long time. In the last 25 years, 2016 recorded the highest number of infection.

In a clinic in Springdale, Arkansas, as many as 40 people with mumps would come in a day during its peak. In hopes of curbing the rise, extra doses of the vaccine were administered but it was a futile attempt in many cases. Next month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are coordinating with other health experts to discuss the possible reasons for the epidemic and recommend measures that can be put in place.

The mumps component of the MMR vaccine normally worked against strain A -- the strain which has not been observed lately. Tests have shown that it may also be effective for strain G which is the type that is causing the outbreak, but the opposite is happening.

On a positive note, the current vaccine may have prevented severe complications such as meningitis, hearing loss and encephalitis. There were rare cases of orchitis, swelling of the testicles. A vaccine researcher admitted that there might be a need to develop a new vaccine but the challenges would be enormous.

One or both of the salivary glands on the sides of the face becomes swollen in mumps infection. It is also accompanied by fever, headache, muscle ache and loss of appetite among other symptoms. The virus is transmitted through the saliva.

In Northwest Arkansas, the Marshallese communities were at a higher risk of infection because of their cultural behaviors. Sharing food and drinking from the same glass made them more prone to getting the virus. Being a tight-knit community, it was not considered appropriate for them to avoid social gatherings as in birthdays, funerals and weddings even at the peak of the epidemic, according to the Stat.

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