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What is the history of Mumps in America and other countries?

disease history

The earliest reports of mumps dates back to Hippocrates in the 5th century BC. Hippocrates reported on an illness that involved swelling just below one or both ears and sometimes involved the swelling and pain of one or both testicles.1 In 1934, researchers determined that the mumps virus that was present in the saliva could be spread from an infected individual to rhesus monkeys.2 The mumps virus was isolated in 1945 and researchers began work on the development of a vaccine against mumps.3

Prior to widespread vaccination programs, mumps outbreaks occurred in the U.S. every 2 to 5 years, mainly among children and in crowded, confined populations such as schools and military bases.4 Currently in countries where there are no widespread mumps vaccination programs, higher incidences of mumps outbreaks occur every 2 to 5 years, and typically affect children between the age of 5 and 9 years.5 Mumps outbreaks occur more often in the winter and spring6 however outbreaks are possible at any time of the year.7

It is not mandatory to report mumps infections, however most health departments will notify the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the event of an outbreak.8 Mumps was considered a nationally reportable infection between 1922 and 1950, however, it was removed from the list in 1951.9 10 In 1968, one year after the introduction of Mumpsvax, a live virus vaccine manufactured by Merck, 11 the CDC resumed data collection on mumps infections. 12 In 1968, there were 152,209 reported cases in the United States.13 Reported cases of mumps continued to decrease and by 1977, there were only 21,436 cases reported in the United States.14 By 1985, the number of reported cases had decreased further with only 2,982 cases of mumps reported to the CDC.15 However, between 1985 and 1987, a resurgence of mumps occurred and by 1987, the number of reported cases had risen to 12,848.16 The demographics of mumps infection shifted during this resurgence, with nearly one third of cases occurring in individuals 15 years of age and older. Prior to 1985, mumps infections predominantly affected children between the age of 5 and 9 years of age.17

After 1987, mumps infections continued to decrease again and by 1989, when the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend two doses of the MMR vaccine due to the resurgence of measles in the United States18, only 666 cases of mumps were reported to the CDC.19

However, in late 2004, an outbreak of mumps disease occurred in the United Kingdom and by late 2005, 56,390 cases of mumps had been reported, with the majority occurring in persons aged 15 to 24 years of age, most of whom had not previously been vaccinated for mumps.20 

In the U.S., infections continued to decline until December of 2005, when a large outbreak began at an eastern Iowa university.21 The outbreak continued to spread, affecting many fully vaccinated college students,22 23 and by the end of 2006, 6,584 cases of mumps infection had been reported to the CDC.24

In 2009 and 2010, the U.S., Canada, and Guam experienced mumps outbreaks. 25 26 In the U.S., the majority of cases occurred in the Northeast, affecting mainly adolescent Orthodox Jewish boys.27 There were 4,603 cases of mumps reported to the CDC as a result of the outbreaks that occurred in 2009 and 2010.28 29 As with the 2006 outbreak, most persons affected with mumps were previously vaccinated for mumps.

Outbreaks in the United States have continued to occur in highly vaccinated populations, especially among young adults residing on college campuses. In 2011, an outbreak occurred on a university campus in California.30 In 2015-2016, several Midwest universities experienced outbreaks, again, affecting highly vaccinated students.31 32 In 2016-2017, nearly 3000 people living in a close-knit community in Northwest Arkansas were infected with mumps.33 In October 2017, as a result of the continued outbreaks among highly vaccinated individuals, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that a third dose of a mumps containing vaccine be administered in the event of an outbreak of the illness.34

Mumps outbreaks continue to occur in the United States and between January 1 and December 29, 2018, there were 2,251 cases of mumps reported to the CDC.35 It is not mandatory for mumps infections to be reported to the CDC, therefore the actual number of mumps infections may be significantly higher that the reported number of cases.36 Further, as up to 30 percent of people infected with mumps infection are asymptomatic and up to 50 percent may exhibit signs of a mild nonspecific illness,37 it is very likely that mumps infection rates are significantly higher than the number of reported cases.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Mumps and the Mumps vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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1 Choi KM. Reemergence of mumps.Korean J Pediatr. 2010 May; 53(5): 623–628.

2 Johnson CD, Goodpasture EW. AN INVESTIGATION OF THE ETIOLOGY OF MUMPS.J Exp Med. 1934 Jan 1; 59(1): 1–19.

3 CDC. Mumps - Mumps VaccineEpidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.

4 Kasper D, Fauci A, Longo D, et al. Mumps. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 16th Edition. 2005.

5 Galazka AM, Robertson SE, Kraigher A. Mumps and mumps vaccine: a global review.Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(1):3-14.

6 Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Mumps Frequently Asked Questions. No Date

7 CDC Mumps Cases and Outbreaks. Jun. 27, 2018

8 Ibid

9 CDC A Plan for revising morbidity reporting by statesCDC Bull. 1951 Feb;10(2):4-12.

10 Barskey AE, Glasser JW, LeBaron CW. Mumps resurgences in the United States: A historical perspective on unexpected elements.Vaccine. 2009 Oct 19;27(44):6186-95

11 Merck Over 100 years of developing vaccines*. May 2017

12 CDC Reported incidence of notifiable diseases in the United States, 1968.MMWR Dec. 1968; 17(53)

13 Ibid

14 CDC Reported morbidity & mortality in the United States, 1977.MMWR. Sep. 1978. 26 (53)

15CDC Current Trends Mumps -- United States, 1985-1988. MMWR Feb. 24, 1989; 38(7);101-105

16 Ibid

17 Ibid

18 CDC Measles Prevention: Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP).MMWR. Dec. 29, 1989; 38(S-9);1-18

19 CDC Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1998.MMWR. Dec. 31, 1999; 47(53);1-93

20 CDC Mumps Epidemic --- United Kingdom, 2004—2005MMWR. Feb.24, 2006; 55(07);173-175

21 CDC Mumps Epidemic --- Iowa, 2006.MMWR. Apr. 7, 2006; 55(13);366-368

22 CDC Brief Report: Update: Mumps Activity --- United States, January 1--October 7, 2006.MMWR. Oct. 27, 2006; 55(42);1152-1153

23 CDC Update: Multistate Outbreak of Mumps --- United States, January 1--May 2, 2006.MMWR. May 26, 2006; 55(20);559-563

24 CDC Summary of Notifiable Diseases --- United States, 2006.MMWR. Mar. 21, 2008; 55(53);1-94

25 CDC Mumps Outbreak --- New York, New Jersey, Quebec, 2009.MMWR. Nov. 20, 2009; 58(45);1270-1274

26 Nelson GE, Aguon A, Valencia E, et al. Epidemiology of a mumps outbreak in a highly vaccinated island population and use of a third dose of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine for outbreak control--Guam 2009 to 2010.Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2013 Apr;32(4):374-80

27 CDC Update: Mumps Outbreak --- New York and New Jersey, June 2009--January 2010.MMWR. Feb. 12, 2010; 59(05);125-129

28 CDC Summary of Notifiable Diseases --- United States, 2009.MMWR May 13, 2011; 58(53);1-100

29 CDC Summary of Notifiable Diseases — United States, 2010.MMWR June 1, 2012; 59(53);1-111

30 CDC Mumps outbreak on a university campus—California, 2011.MMWR. Dec. 7, 2012; 61(48);986-989

31 CDC Mumps Outbreak at a University and Recommendation for a Third Dose of Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine — Illinois, 2015–2016.MMWR July 29, 2016; 65(29);731–734

32 CDC Notes from the Field: Complications of Mumps During a University Outbreak Among Students Who Had Received 2 Doses of Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine — Iowa, July 2015–May 2016.MMWR. Apr. 14, 2017; 66(14);390–391

33 CDC Mumps Cases and Outbreaks. Jun. 27, 2018

34 CDC Recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of a Third Dose of Mumps Virus–Containing Vaccine in Persons at Increased Risk for Mumps During an Outbreak.MMWR. Jan. 12, 2018; 67(1);33–38

35 CDC Mumps Cases and Outbreaks. Jan. 10, 2019

36 Ibid

37 Minnesota Department of Health Mumps Clinical Information - Clinical Presentation. Dec. 1, 2017

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