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Metro Newsroom 

First Case of Mumps in Louisville

Wednesday July 19, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – (July 19, 2006) There has been a confirmed case of mumps in an adult in Louisville Metro.  Federal privacy law prohibits giving any information on the patient.  This is the first case of mumps in the Louisville area since 2002 when the area saw one case.  There was also a case of mumps in Kentucky earlier this year in McCracken County.

The Midwestern United States is experiencing a mumps outbreak that began in Iowa in December 2005 that has seen more than 1,000 cases spread across 8 states.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also been investigating cases in at least 7 other states.  The number of cases associated with the Midwestern outbreak has declined precipitously over the last several weeks. The current mumps case in Louisville does not appear to be linked to this outbreak.  Nor was any link was found to the outbreak in the McCracken County case.  Kentucky averages between 0 and 5 cases of mumps per year.

Mumps is an acute viral illness whose symptoms includes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite; followed by swelling of salivary glands. The parotid salivary glands (which are located within the cheek, near the jaw line and below the ears) are most frequently affected.  Fortunately, mumps is usually not a serious disease. People are usually ill for a week or so. But, in some people, it can have serious complications.  Although severe complications are rare, mumps can cause inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis); inflammation of the testicles (orchitis); inflammation of the ovaries and/or breasts (oophoritis and mastitis); spontaneous abortion; and deafness. 

Mumps is spread from person to person through contact with respiratory secretions or saliva.  “The best protection against mumps is vaccination,” said Dr. Matt Zahn, Medical Director of the Louisville Metro Health Department.  “All children as well as adults who were born after 1957 and without a history of having mumps should have two doses on MMR vaccine to guard against mumps,” said Zahn.  For more information on immunizations, phone the Louisville Metro Health Department at 574-5380.

The mission of the Louisville Metro Health Department is to protect, preserve and promote the health, environment and well-being of the people of Louisville.  To learn more about the Health Department’s programs and services go to

What is mumps?

It is an infection caused by the mumps virus.

Who can get mumps?

Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps. Before the routine vaccination program was introduced in the United States, mumps was a common illness in infants, children and young adults. Because most people have now been vaccinated, mumps is now a rare disease in the United States. Of those people who do get mumps, up to half have very mild, or no symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most common symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite followed by onset of parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears-on one or both sides).

Are there complications of mumps?

The most common complication is the inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty, but rarely does this lead to fertility problems.
Other rare complications include:
• Inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis)
• Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty
• Spontaneous abortion particularly in early pregnancy (miscarriage)
• Deafness, usually permanent

How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 after infection.

How is mumps spread?
Mumps is spread by mucus or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes. Surfaces of items (e.g. toys) can also spread the virus if someone who is sick touches them without washing their hands, and someone else then touches the same surface and then rubs their eyes, mouth, nose etc. (this is called fomite transmission).

How long is an infected person able to spread the disease?

Mumps virus has been isolated from respiratory secretions 3 days before the start of symptoms until 9 days after onset.

What is the treatment for mumps?
There is no specific treatment. Supportive care should be given as needed. If someone becomes very ill, they should seek medical attention. If someone seeks medical attention, they should call their doctor in advance so that they don't have to sit in the waiting room for a long time and possibly infect other patients.

How do I protect myself (my kids/my family)?

Mumps vaccine (MMR) is the best way to prevent mumps. All children and all adults born after 1957 without a history of having mumps should have two doses to protect against mumps.  Other things people can do to prevent mumps and other infections is to wash hands well and often with soap, and to teach children to wash their hands too. Eating utensils should not be shared, and surfaces that are frequently touched (toys, doorknobs, tables, counters, etc) should also be regularly cleaned with soap and water, or with cleaning wipes.