Mumps: a non-childish threat with a “childish” name

(ORDO NEWS) — Among vaccine-controlled infections, there are really life-threatening and health-threatening infections that are highly likely to cause disability and even death.

Among them are smallpox and poliomyelitis, which has been defeated to date, leading to severe neurological disorders.There are also seemingly harmless infections, such as chickenpox. Does not seem to be a great danger and mumps or simply mumps.

The child has signs of acute respiratory infections, the parotid glands swell, and after a week all the symptoms disappear. But is the pig as simple and funny as its funny name? Igor Nikitin, MD, Doctor of Medicine, tells about the dangerous properties of this infection.

The parotid salivary glands are a completely unremarkable paired organ, except that a duct departs from it, leading to the upper second molar – the molar tooth. In most people, the parotid salivary glands function normally throughout life and do not make themselves felt.

But if inflammation develops in them, rather unpleasant symptoms occur. The inflamed gland swells, increases, a characteristic swelling appears near the ear, the infected person is worried about pain, dry mouth, or vice versa – increased salivation. These are symptoms of mumps or mumps.

The word “mumps” is a collective term. It consists of three Greek roots: “para” – about, “otis” – “ear” and “itis” – an inflammatory process. The term, in fact, contains a brief description of the disease – “inflammation of the parotid gland.”

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Like many infections, mumps has accompanied humanity since ancient times. The first description of the disease is found in Hippocrates. In 410 BC, he observed the spread of this infection on the island of Thassos in the Aegean Sea. The progenitor of medicine described not only the typical symptoms of the disease, but also its complications , such as orchitis and meningoencephalitis.

Not all mumps are mumps

There may be various reasons behind the inflammatory process in the body, and not every parotitis is epidemic. For example, there is a rare variety of this infection – acute bacterial parotitis.

As the name suggests, it is caused by pathogenic bacteria. Most often, this type of mumps develops after surgery and in people suffering from chronic diseases. Before the invention of antibiotics, acute bacterial parotitis was 80 percent fatal.

There is another rare form of parotitis. It affects newborn babies and without treatment leads to the most sad consequences. Fortunately, over the past 30 years, only 32 cases of such infection have been recorded in the world.

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Parotitis can occur against the background of dehydration of the body or disorders in the immune system, when it fails and attacks the body’s own tissues. In addition, mumps can be caused by various pathogens – the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Mycobacterium tuberculosis and even the influenza virus.

For example, in 2015, there were 256 cases of mumps directly related to the influenza virus in the United States. The most common form of parotitis is epidemic. It is caused by a virus called MuV from the paramyxovirus family. It is this disease that is called mumps and is included in the list of infections against which Russia provides for routine vaccination as part of the National Calendar of Preventive Immunizations.

Before the introduction of mass vaccination, from 300 to 500 thousand people in our country were ill with mumps every year, but now Russian doctors detect only a little more than a thousand cases of infection per year.

At risk are people with immunodeficiency, travelers in regions where outbreaks of mumps have been noted, and of course all those who have not been vaccinated. When in contact with a person with mumps, it is very easy to become infected: the virus is transmitted like a common cold – by airborne droplets, it is highly contagious, that is, extremely contagious.

It affects not only the salivary glands

Swelling on the face is the hallmark of mumps. That is why he got his funny nickname – “pig”. With a typical course of the disease, the incubation period lasts for the first 12-24 days – at this time there are no manifestations.

Then there are symptoms, like SARS: the temperature rises, appetite disappears, a feeling of malaise appears. May cause headaches and muscle pain. Very soon, this is followed by the actual “mumps” – swelling near one or both ears.

Most people who have heard of mumps frivolously believe that this is the end of the matter. However, the MuV virus is insidious and can cause complications, some of which are life-threatening. For example, in young male patients, mumps can cause infertility in adulthood. In four percent of patients, the virus provokes inflammation of the pancreas – pancreatitis.

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In addition, some medical experts suggest a link between parotitis and the development of diabetes. In rare cases, parotitis can even proceed in the form of encephalitis – leading to inflammation of the brain, epileptic seizures, paralysis, neurological disorders, hydrocephalus, and even in some cases death. In about five cases out of a hundred thousand, mumps leads to deafness. This infection is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in children.

From opponents of vaccinations, we often hear – “it’s better to get sick once than to inject the child with incomprehensible substances, because childhood infections are easy, this is only temporary discomfort.” In fact, even a “harmless” mumps at first glance can lead to very serious consequences. According to statistics, out of a hundred thousand people with parotitis, at least one dies from complications.

How did the vaccine come about?

Since the time of Hippocrates, many centuries have passed before science was able to explain where and how parotitis occurs. It wasn’t until 1934 that American scientists Cloud D. Johnson and Ernest W. Goodpasture discovered that mumps was caused by a virus by infecting rhesus monkeys with the saliva of infected people. In 1945, the pathogen itself, the MuV virus, was isolated.

An inactivated (from killed viruses) vaccine against it was created already three years after this discovery, but it turned out to be ineffective – it did not provide the necessary level of protection, and specific immunity after immunization with the drug did not last long. The vaccine had to be abandoned.

The beginning of a full-fledged vaccination against mumps was laid in 1967. Around the same time, microbiologist Maurice Ralph Hilleman’s daughter, Jeryl Lynn, fell ill. She complained of a sore throat. Seeing the characteristic swelling on the girl’s face, the doctor immediately realized that it was caused by mumps.

The first thing Maurice did was take swabs from his daughter’s throat to examine the pathogen. Subsequently, it was from this strain of the virus that the mumps vaccine was obtained. The drug was named after the scientist’s daughter, Jeryl Lynn. The vaccine technology developed by Hilleman is still used in industrial production today.

Domestic virologists did not lag behind foreign colleagues. In the Soviet Union, in parallel with research in the United States, they developed their own vaccine against mumps.

This was done by scientists from the Pasteur Leningrad Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology under the guidance of the famous microbiologist, virologist and immunologist Anatoly Aleksandrovich Smorodintsev. The domestic vaccine was created on the basis of the Leningrad-3 strain, and it has been used for routine immunization since 1980.

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In our time, the baton for the development of an effective vaccine against mumps was taken by the scientists of the NPO Microgen enterprise of the Nacimbio holding (part of the Rostec State Corporation). In 2019, the company’s biotechnologists brought to the Russian market the first combined vaccine Vactrivir registered in the country for one-time protection against mumps and two more infections – rubella and measles.

Today, all the world’s major vaccine manufacturers are following the path of creating multicomponent preparations, that is, including more than one antigen in their composition to prevent several infections. This technology makes it possible to reduce the number of injections (thus reducing the pain load on the child), increase the coverage and adherence of people to immunoprophylaxis.

As the developers explain, Vaktrivir is safe, contributes to the formation of strong immunity and minimizes the risk of disease. This is confirmed by the results of clinical studies, during which a high concentration of antibodies to all antigens that make up the drug was established. Since 2021, the vaccine has been available for free immunization of the population as part of the National Immunization Schedule.

Why do vaccinated people get sick too?

Like any vaccine, the mumps vaccine does not provide 100% protection. Some vaccinated patients can still become infected, but the likelihood of this is extremely low. In addition, in the majority of cases (66 percent), the disease in vaccinated people occurs without symptoms.

Despite the fact that mumps immunoprophylaxis is included in the National Immunization Schedule and covers a large percentage of the population, outbreaks of infection can still occur from time to time. Among the main reasons, scientists name, first of all, the refusal to vaccinate. The more unvaccinated, the more cases of the disease. Including among those who received the vaccine, because they have to deal with infected people more often.

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Insufficient immunity after vaccination is also of great importance. Two to three percent of people do not develop protection even after two vaccinations. If only one vaccination is given, the risk of the disease increases significantly.

Also, a gradual decrease in the level of protection can lead to infection. The immune system “forgets” the virus over time, so the more time passes after vaccination, the higher the risk of infection.

Does all this mean that vaccination is ineffective? An eloquent answer to the question is given by comparing the incidence of mumps in the “pre-vaccination” era and today. Vaccinations are still the only reliable way invented by science to protect against most dangerous infections.


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