BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Though generally considered a disease of the past, it turns out cases of mumps are actually on the rise — and a recent outbreak of the virus is occurring not far from Maryland.
Delaware health officials are investigating 11 cases of the mumps possibly linked to two separate dance festivals held at the same venue. Researchers are finding even if you’ve been vaccinated for the mumps, you could still end up catching the virus.
“It’s a lousy disease if you get it, very uncomfortable,” Vera Thomas-Platten said.
She was spared the fever, aches, pains and puffy cheeks the virus is best known for.
Her mother had it while she was pregnant, making her immune.
But her sister hasn’t been as lucky.
Despite the fact that most children get two doses of the mumps vaccine by the time they are age six, there have been recent outbreaks of the virus among vaccinated young adults.
“It can spread very easily and runs through communities of unvaccinated people, and it can affect vaccinated people as well,” Sinai Hospital ER Dr. Neil Roy said.
The mumps vaccine is the focus of a recent study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds immunity after vaccination on average lasts 27 years, and a quarter of people lose protection after eight years.
Mumps can spread through coughing, sneezing or by sharing infected items. Doctors still urge getting vaccinated, especially in areas that experience outbreaks.
“If you’ve been vaccinated, the severity of your illness is nowhere near as bad,” Roy said.
Studies are being conducted to see if a booster shot at adulthood could help prevent outbreaks.
Some aren’t waiting to find out.
“The effectiveness of any vaccine begins to wear off as you age and your immune systems changes, and you definitely need to get boosters — that’s important,” one Baltimore resident said.
So far, there have been no reported cases of the mumps in Maryland.