Measles Mania is raging on in the US, with 102 reported cases from 14 states so far, as of January 30.
You can't log on to the internet without bumping into dozens of stories about the outbreak, the importance of vaccination, forcing parents to vaccinate their kids, imprisoning parents for not vaccinating their kids, taking away exemptions, and so on…
All over 102 cases of a relatively benign childhood disease that rarely kills anyone in the US.
But measles isn't the only disease that is making its rounds – mumps is, as well.
How long until people start freaking out over this?
Oh, wait – they might not…because it seems the mainstream media is largely ignoring the mumps.
Maybe that's because it would be much harder to blame those nefarious little "anti-vaxxer" hippies for these outbreaks.
Mumps is a disease that is caused by the mumps virus. It typically begins with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands (the "chipmunk cheeks" appearance associated with mumps).
Before vaccinations for mumps (MMR and MMRV) were routinely given, it was a common illness among babies, children, and young adults.
Most people fully recover from mumps within two weeks. Like measles, the most serious complication that is associated with the virus is encephalitis (which is also a possible adverse reaction to the MMR vaccine, go figure), which can lead to permanent disability or death, but this is very rare.
Mumps is highly contagious: it is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
There are cases of mumps and outbreaks every year in the US. Here are reported case numbers from recent years, from the CDC:
- 2014: 1,151 (including 18 NHL players)
- 2013: 438 (from 39 states)
- 2011-2013: several smaller mumps outbreaks were reported on college campuses in California, Virginia, and Maryland. However, these all had limited spread, and national case counts for these years were at usual levels (several hundred cases per year).
- 2009-2010: 2 large outbreaks, about 3,500 cases total
- 2007-2008: usual levels (several hundred cases)
- 2006: over 6,500 cases (mostly in college students)
And…2015 is off to a roaring start.
Here's a list of some recent
reported cases in the US and abroad:
As of Jan 15: 16 cases of the mumps have been linked to a University of Idaho outbreak
As of Jan 20 in South Australia:
In just the first month of the year, there have been nine cases of mumps reported to SA Health, compared to last year's annual total of 14 cases and just five in 2013.
SA Health chief medical officer Paddy Phillips: "It's a relatively uncommon illness due to high rates of vaccination, so the fact that we've seen 15 cases in the last three months alone is unusual."
As of Jan 22 in Scotland:
There has been a threefold increase in the number of cases of mumps in Scotland in the first three weeks of this year.
A total of 98 cases have been reported, compared to 36 for the whole of January 2014.
The majority of those infected are young adults in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, and Edinburgh.
At least ten of those cases are students at Glasgow University. Of the 98 cases, more than 30 people, mostly aged between 25 and 35, were infected within a two week period across Cumbernauld, Lanark and Biggar.
As of Jan 27 in Syracuse, NY:
The Onondaga County Health Department cannot confirm a suspected case of mumps in a Baldwinsville junior high school student because test results that came back today are inconclusive.
Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga's health commissioner, said the test may have been inconclusive because the child was vaccinated against the mumps.
As of Jan 29, in East Moline, Illinois – 2 "probable" cases:
"A probable case means that clinically, with the symptoms and the lab work that was done, it meets the criteria that the Illinois Department of Public Health has setup for a case of mumps," Terri Davies said, the assistant public information officer for the Rock Island County Health Department.
Rock Island County Health officials said approximately 98 percent of Moline students are vaccinated for mumps. The last confirmed case of mumps in Rock Island County was in December of 2014.
As of Feb 5 in Virginia, at UVA:
Student Health Director Dr. James Turner announced Monday that more suspected cases of mumps have been identified in students at UVA.
NBC29's Alyson Smith spoke with Dr. Lillian Peake, health director of the Thomas Jefferson Health District. She said they have made the determination that there are five new probable cases of mumps, bringing the total number to seven, at this time.
UVA is treating this as an outbreak–technically defined as three or more cases at a time. The infected students have been isolated, but all had been vaccinated previously. But, according to Dr. Turner, getting the vaccination doesn't necessarily mean you can't contract mumps.
"There's no evidence that we're dealing with a bad vaccination at all. That's been thoroughly looked at in the Iowa outbreak. And we just know that the vaccine is 95% effective, leaving 5% potentially at risk of coming down with the disease," stated Turner.
Wait – 95% effective?
Not so fast.
From the CDC's mumps page:
Two doses of mumps vaccine are 88% (range: 66-95%) effective at preventing the disease; one dose is 78% (range: 49%−92%) effective.
How effective is this vaccine? Postlicensure studies have demonstrated one dose of MMR vaccine is 78% (range, 45%-97%) effective for prevention of mumps. The second dose of MMR is intended to produce immunity in those who did not respond to the first dose, but a very small percentage of people may not be protected even after a second dose.
But was a vaccine for mumps ever really necessary?
Lawrence Solomon explored that issue in his article Why Doctors Aren't Shocked That Mumps Have Hit the NHL:
A century ago, before sanitation and public health improvements, mumps was a risky disease. By the 1950s, it had become largely benign, a childhood disease that especially hit five- to nine-year-olds, and almost everyone by their late teens. Once infected, children obtained lifetime immunity, making mumps rare in adulthood.
Because mumps was dangerous in adults — complications can include sterility in males and, in pregnant women, the loss of the child — public health authorities in the 1950s and 1960s predicted that the mumps vaccine then being proposed would backfire.
Mumps and other once-perilous childhood diseases "have been brought under control and there is cause to rejoice in the fact … that epidemics are becoming scarce," Dr. E. H. Lossing, the chief of epidemiology at the federal government's Department of Health and Welfare, wrote in 1955.
Mumps no longer remained "of sufficient gravity in terms of morbidity, mortality or disability to justify universal and probably repeated vaccination. Unless lifelong immunity is conferred by the primary vaccination, which seems unlikely, should the attack merely be postponed to older ages when economic loss and risk of complications are greater?"
Solomon goes on to explain that Dr. Lossing was correct:
The mumps vaccine does not confer children with lifelong immunity, repeated vaccinations have become the rule, and mumps has become an adult disease that threatens to be costlier in terms of both time off work and health. But mumps vaccination has turned out to be even iffier than Dr. Lossing might have imagined, because the mumps vaccine is a staggering underperformer.
For one thing, the vaccine is a dud with many, accomplishing no good at all. "Right off the bat, when you give it to 100 people, 15 won't respond," states Dr. Gregory Poland, head of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, one of the world's largest and most authoritative. Even when the vaccine does take, its full benefit often doesn't last long — just one or two years before the level of antibodies drops below the level required to protect against mumps, according to a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. By the eighth year, the antibody levels have plummeted to just one third the level required for protection.
As of December 2014, the US government's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has received 962 claims for serious injuries involving mumps vaccines, 58 of them causing deaths, and granted compensation in 371 claims.
Yet, not a single person died in any of the mumps outbreaks listed above.
According to the WHO, an average of one mumps-related death per year occurred from 1980-1999 in the US.
Oh, and about that MMR vaccine…Merck, the pharmaceutical company that makes the vaccine, is the defendant in at least two federal court cases, Solomon reports:
In September, a U.S. District Court found plausible claims that pharmaceutical giant Merck falsified data and otherwise engaged in fraudulent activities in order to win U.S. Food and Drug Act approval — and a monopoly in the U.S. market — for its mumps vaccine. Merck will as a result be appearing in at least two federal court cases to defend itself: United States v. Merck & Co and Chatom Primary Care v Merck & Co, a class action suit by doctors and medical practices who claim they were sold an overpriced and defective product.
Both court cases stem from two former Merck scientists-turned-whistleblowers who participated in the falsifications first hand and, according to court documents, were ordered by Merck to keep silent about the test results, which showed the vaccine to be less effective than needed to be licensed. The falsified, fraudulently robust results discouraged competing manufacturers from entering the mumps market, preventing a truly efficacious vaccine from being developed and making Merck a monopoly provider. The court documents also state that Merck expected increased outbreaks of mumps over time because its vaccine would fail (emphasis mine).
Remember those outbreaks I listed earlier in this article? It sure does seem like Merck knew (or should have known) those outbreaks were coming.
For in-depth information on the Merck lawsuits, please read Solomon's article Merck Has Some Explaining To Do Over Its MMR Vaccine Claims.
In addition, the CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson, who was recently granted immunity, is expected to testify before Congress about CDC fraud regarding MMR vaccine safety.
Meanwhile, "anti-vaxers" are still being chastised for being the cause of outbreaks.
A mumps survivor (who got the mumps at age 19, despite being fully vaccinated)Facebook, Google Plus, & Twitter. You can also get Freedom Outpost delivered to your Amazon Kindle device here.