Although the percentage of persons with mumps antibodies was on the lower end of what is considered necessary for herd immunity, the study authors note that the incidence of mumps has declined by 96 percent or more since the pre-vaccine era. However, to maintain this success against this serious viral infection, the study authors believe it is crucial to maintain or, preferably, improve vaccine coverage to prevent or control future outbreaks.
The findings emphasize the "importance of achieving and maintaining a high rate of vaccination in the community, continuing surveillance for mumps, promptly reporting known and suspected cases of mumps to public health officials so that they can take immediate steps to stop further spread of the virus, and studying and understanding the changing factors that affect the introduction and spread of mumps in the U.S.," Dr. Kutty said.
In an accompanying editorial, Patricia Quinlisk, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist and medical director with the Iowa Department of Public Health, agreed with the study authors, noting that over time, immunity to mumps may diminish. This can occur even after a second dose of the MMR vaccine, which was recommended, starting in 1989, for children entering school. To ensure individual lifelong immunity and appropriate levels of herd immunity, Quinlisk suggested that a third dose may be needed or that the second dose should be delayed until later in adolescence. The study's findings "will help us to understand and use the public health strategies that will best control mumps today," Dr. Quinlisk wrote.
|Contact: John Heys|
Infectious Diseases Society of America