Dear Parent or Guardian:
There has been a case of mumps in your child’s school and your child may have been exposed. It is recommended that all children have 2 doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, one at 12 months and a second at 4-5 years. If your child has received 2 doses of MMR the chances of him/her developing mumps is extremely low. If, however, your child has not been fully vaccinated then it is possible that he/she might get mumps.
What is Mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection. Symptoms include fever, headache and swelling of cheek and jaw. Meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain) can occur but usually resolves without problems. More rarely encephalitis (inflammation of the brain itself) and deafness can occur. In adolescent and adult males mumps can cause inflammation of the testicles (orchitis), but, contrary to popular belief it is not a frequent cause of infertility. Mumps in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Children are infectious for 3 days before to 5 days after the cheek swelling appears. Symptoms can develop from 14 to 25 days after exposure.
What should I do now?
If your child is fully vaccinated there is no need for concern. If your child has not received the 2 doses of MMR then you should bring them to your GP for vaccination. The vaccine may not protect them if they have been exposed this time but it will protect them from future exposures.
What should I do if I think my child has mumps?
If your child develops swelling of the cheeks and jawline contact your GP. He/she will be able to tell you if it looks like mumps and will advise you what to do. There is no specific treatment for mumps.
If my child gets mumps can he/she stay in school?
To prevent spread of mumps to others, your child must stay at home for 5 days after the symptoms develop.
How can I stop mumps spreading in the family?
Anyone who has neither had mumps nor received MMR vaccine should go to their family doctor to discuss vaccination.
Thank you for giving this your attention. Your family doctor and local health clinic will be able to answer any further questions that you might have about mumps and the MMR vaccine. Please bring this letter with you if you go to your GP for vaccination or advice.
- MARIE LEAHY
SENIOR MEDICAL OFFICER