There was a pointy enhance in circumstances of mumps this yr in England – however the viral sickness which might trigger swollen glands (and, extra not often, testes) has been round for a really very long time.
Manner again within the fifth Century, Hippocrates is considered the primary individual to have recorded the signs of the illness.
The Greek doctor described “swellings… concerning the ears, in lots of on both facet, and within the biggest quantity on either side”.
His observations clearly level to the traditional signal of mumps – the puffy-cheeked look which impacts many, although not all, of these affected.
It is a results of the mumps virus inflicting the swelling and irritation of 1 or each parotid glands, which sit in entrance of the ears.
It will probably result in issue opening the mouth to speak, eat and drink.
And this recognisable symptom most likely gave the sickness its identify.
Mumps is an odd phrase for an sickness, and it has no clear origin.
It may come from the outdated English phrase for grimace or sulk – mump – or it might be linked to the Icelandic phrase for a mouth being stuffed too full – mumpa – and the Dutch for mumble, “mompen”.
Nevertheless, the overriding impression is that the distinctive “hamster face” look of the sickness has influenced its identify.
However it’s not the one a part of the physique that may swell up – in uncommon circumstances, the testes, the pancreas, the mind and the ovaries can too.
“It would not make boys sterile – that is a fable,” says Prof Helen Bedford, from the Royal Faculty of Paediatrics and Youngster Well being.
Mumps is, nevertheless, extra critical and extra painful the older you might be.
Complications, fever and ear ache typically accompany the swelling.
Outbreaks are widespread
Mumps has not solely reappeared this yr, regardless of the rise in circumstances.
Earlier than the MMR vaccine – the second M stands for mumps – was launched within the UK in 1988, eight out of 10 folks developed mumps and most of them have been youngsters of college age.
At the moment, there have been 5 deaths a yr from mumps, primarily attributable to encephalitis or swelling of the mind.
After then, the sickness turned comparatively uncommon but it surely began coming again once more within the 2000s, with the most important outbreak in 2005 rising to greater than 43,000 circumstances in England and Wales.
Circumstances have by no means spiked like that once more, however outbreaks are widespread and circumstances of mumps constantly outnumber measles and rubella circumstances annually.
Youngsters and younger adults in schools and universities at the moment are those who are typically affected – for a number of causes.
They could be too outdated to have been immunised or supplied the MMR, or might solely have had one dose of the vaccine – or they’d two doses, however the vaccine’s safety in opposition to mumps has worn off.
“The mumps vaccine isn’t as efficient as different bits of MMR, which is why it is necessary to have two doses,” says Prof Bedford.
Shut-mixing teams of younger folks in different nations are equally affected by mumps outbreaks.
The virus is definitely unfold, by way of saliva or droplets in a cough or sneeze – a bit like colds and flu.
Prof Bedford says it is very important bear in mind the influence of mumps (in addition to measles and rubella) on youngsters, and younger folks.
“Mumps could make youngsters really feel very unwell and keep in mattress for days.
“It is not nothing. Maybe we have overlooked what these diseases are actually like,” she says.
Fortunately, we have now Hippocrates to remind us.