Mumps, part of the Paramyxovirus family (Hunt, 2008) and also known as Epidemic parotitis (Medline Plus, n.d.), is a virus that has a worldwide distribution with humans being the only known reservoir (Chamberlain, 2013). Mumps are a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands, otherwise known as the salivary glands located below and in front of the ears (Mayo Clinic Staff, n.d.). Although swelling, also known as parotitis, is the most recognized symptom of mumps, it may only occur in approximately 30-40% of cases. Other patients may have non-specific symptoms, basically symptoms that are similar to other viruses. Up to 20% of infected individuals may experience no symptoms at all (The History of Vaccines, 2014).
Mumps are negative-sense RNA viruses with helical symmetry. They are enveloped and non-segmented (Hunt, 2008). This virus has been seen in approximately 95% of cases in children ranging in age from 15 years or younger (Chamberlain, 2013). Due to the mumps being primarily a childhood disease, about 50% of children contracted the disease prior to the introduction of the mumps vaccine (MMR – measles, mumps and rubella) in 1967 (Hunt, 2008).
When infected with this virus several other symptoms other than swelling may occur. Mumps is the leading cause of deafness and it also infects the central nervous system (CNS) resulting in aseptic meningitis and sometimes severe encephalitis with some cases being fatal (Hunt, 2008 & Chamberlain, 2013). It will cause temporary defects in immune response with fever of 103 F, trouble eating or drinking, perhaps confusion and disorientation, as well as abdominal pain (Hunt 2008).
Some people may experience weakness and fatigue or pain while chewing and swallowing (Mayo Clinic Staff, n.d.). Some of this pain while chewing and swallowing may come from the swelling involved but may be noticeable due to looking like they have “chipmunk cheeks” (Jack, 2008).
The mumps virus also has other symptoms, such as causing inflammation of the pancreas, thyroid, prostate, and lacrimal glands (Chamberlain, 2013). Males and females may experience symptoms differently and may experience symptoms within the reproductive areas of the body.
In males, cases of infection of the epididymis and the testes has been seen which will cause bilateral inflammation of the testes called epididymoorchitis. Due to this males may experience sterility when older, but is rare (Chamberlain, 2013).
In females, the mumps can cause an infection of the ovaries with inflammation, called oophoritis, and the pain associated with the inflammation will mimic that of an appendicitis if the right ovary is involved. At this time, there is not any evidence that would suggest that the mumps cause infertility in females. There is, however, an increased chance of fetal death and abortion if a female that was pregnant was to contract the mumps (Chamberlain, 2013).
Contraction of mumps occurs through breathing in of...