Although immunity to mumps is high in the United States, mumps vaccine coverage must be maintained and improved to prevent future outbreaks, according to a new study, now available online (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/655394), in the September 1, 2010 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Mumpsa viral illness found in most parts of the worldcan cause serious complications, including deafness, sterility, meningitis, and encephalitis. Since 1977, mumps vaccination has been recommended in the U.S. and is given as part of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. Two doses are currently recommended for children. By 2000, the annual number of reported U.S. mumps cases had declined to less than 500. But in 2006, the country's largest mumps outbreak in 20 years began on college campuses in Iowa and resulted in more than 6,000 reported cases. This event raised questions about how to prevent future outbreaks and about the feasibility of eliminating mumps.
To measure the U.S. population's immunity to mumps, Preeta K. Kutty, MD, MPH, and other researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obtained blood samples from 6- to 49-year-old participants in a nationwide health survey and tested the samples for antibodies to mumps. Serum samples were tested and survey data were collected during 1999� from more than 15,000 people. Researchers found that 90 percent of the participants had antibodies to mumps; this is on the lower end of what is needed to protect the overall population through "herd immunity"the proportion of the population that needs to be vaccinated to stop transmission of mumps.
Among study participants old enough to have had mumps as children (those born between 1949 and 1966), 92 to 93 percent had mumps antibodies. Among those likely to have been vaccinated (those born after 1976), 90 percent had mumps antibodi
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Infectious Diseases Society of America