By. Nathan Cram
Bangor, ME: Earlier this year news broke out about a student from University of Southern Maine who came down with a case of the mumps. There have been no cases of the mumps in the state of Maine since 2013. As far as we know this is the only case that has come up this year, but the mumps is something that is not to be taken lightly. It may not be as common as a cold, the flu, or even the chicken pox, but none the less it is still something that should be taken seriously.
Now what are the mumps exactly? Well the mumps is a viral infection that affects the part of the body called the parotid glands. These glands are located in front and behind the ears and are part of a group of three saliva-producing glands. Laurie Eddy is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Husson University. She knows that the mumps can be passed during common activities that we encounter all the time. “This is a virus that is passed through coughs and sneezes.” Along with the different ways it can spread, there are also a few symptoms that may seem very common which may make the mumps difficult to diagnose. “You feel lousy, like you’re getting the flu. Also the area under your jaw swells up as well.”
The mumps are very contagious and anyone can get them. Since it is passed through various types of contact with people, it can be very easy to contract. Eddy believes that the mumps can affect every person differently. “If a pregnant woman was to get the mumps, it could make her baby deaf. If a man was to get mumps as a pre-teen, he could have problems with sterility. Also if a woman were to get it, they could get a lot of problems as well.” As well as men and woman, mumps may do the most damage when it comes to children. “Babies if they’re exposed to it could get inflammation of the brain, and it could kill them, so there is a good reason why we have people vaccinated.”
When we go to college there is a lot of paperwork that we have to fill out when it comes to vaccinations in order to attend school. The mumps vaccine is one of those crucial vaccinations that every student needs to have. This vaccination is called the MMR, which stands for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Eddy says that it is important that each student gets these vaccines. “Each college student needs to have two MMR’s. They don’t separate them out anymore so it is always those three.”
Just like most of the common illnesses like colds and the flu, the mumps makes you feel really weak. You may get a temperature like you would see with either of these conditions. It takes and huge toll on the body and since it is a viral infection, there is really no cure for it. Eddy has some tips for how to handle the mumps. “The incubation period is between a week to twelve days.” A lot of bed rest is recommended as well as drinking lots of fluids and trying to keep the fever down if there is one. The mumps isn’t the most common illness in Maine, but these precautions can still be taken to help prevent the mumps from ever becoming a problem.