How to Report About a Mumps Outbreak

Mumps causes swelling under the jaw.

In Octo­ber of 2016, I saw a news report about a mumps out­break in Arkansas. The reporter men­tioned that mumps caus­es a flu-like ill­ness that can pro­duce swelling under the jaw, and that the dis­ease can last for about two weeks. How­ev­er, that report made it sound as if mumps were no big deal. But mumps is a very big deal.

Here are the basic facts that reporters should explain when­ev­er mumps breaks out:

  • Mumps is rarely fatal, but it can leave its vic­tims deaf in one or both ears.
  • Mumps can cause painful swelling of the tes­ti­cles and can leave men ster­ile.
  • Mumps is a res­pi­ra­to­ry virus, which is why it spreads eas­i­ly from per­son to per­son.
  • Vac­ci­na­tion is the only reli­able way to pre­vent infec­tions that spread eas­i­ly from per­son to per­son.
  • The vac­cine again­st the mumps is part of the measles-mumps-rubel­la (MMR) com­bined vac­cine.
  • To pre­vent mumps, we need to vac­ci­nate as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. If a large enough per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is immu­nized, then mumps stops spread­ing.
  • By vac­ci­nat­ing every­one who can be vac­ci­nat­ed, we can pro­tect the peo­ple who can­not be vac­ci­nat­ed (infants and peo­ple with immune sys­tem prob­lems).
  • A glob­al vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign could dri­ve measles, mumps, and rubel­la into extinc­tion.

Here are some use­ful memes for fight­ing mumps:

mmr-deafness

mumps-sterile

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