Mumps and Measles

By: Jeremy Pickell, MD

Another day, another reason clinical research and medical advancement is so important to our children’s overall health.

Mumps and Measles may ring a bell to some, but thanks to highly effective vaccines, neither of these viral infections make a huge appearance in our offices. That said, both illnesses can still affect children so remaining informed is never a bad idea.

Measles in Children

Measles is incredibly contagious—to say the least. 90% of susceptible people develop measles following exposure and it is primarily spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms usually begin 1-2 weeks later and include:

  • High fever
  • The 3 C’s: cough, coryza (runny nose), and conjunctivitis (red inflamed eyes).
  • Rash that starts on the face and spreads head-to-toe. The rash could pop up 2-4 days after the fever begins, and last about a week before fading in the opposite order that it appeared.

Most people recover from measles without problems but some do go on to develop complications such as ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, or encephalitis/meningitis (inflammation of the brain and the membranes that surround it).

Treatment is generally supportive: rest, plenty of fluids, and pain relievers for fever control.

Thankfully, measles and its associated complications are now preventable with the measles vaccine. The 2 doses recommended in childhood are 97% effective in preventing measles infection.

Mumps in Children

Like measles, mumps is a viral infection that is spread through respiratory droplets and peaks in late winter to early spring. Mumps tends to be more common in school-aged children and young adults. Symptoms include…

  • Fever
  • Headache/muscle aches and fatigue
  • Parotitis is the painful swelling of the parotid gland on either side of the mouth, just in front of the ears. The swelling is most common in children 2-9 years old, can be on one or both sides, and can last up to 10 days.

Again, management is supportive care and monitoring for complications; the most common being orchitis, a painful swelling of the testicles that occurs in older boys who have already begun or completed puberty.

Just like measles, some patients with mumps can develop encephalitis, meningitis or even deafness.  In fact, prior to its vaccine, mumps was a leading cause of acquired hearing loss in children.

While there are still a few hundred to a few thousand cases per year, the mumps vaccine has helped the number of annual cases in the United States to drop by over 99%.

Despite the fortunate rarety of both of these viruses, it is important to see your healthcare provider if you suspect your child may have measles or mumps.  There are ways to test for these infections and we can help develop a treatment plan.  It is also important to discuss measles and mumps vaccination with your provider, as vaccination is truly the best way to keep your child safe and prevent them from getting either illness.

Until next time,

Dr. Jeremy Pickell

Parkside Provider, Medical Director (Greer), and Vol fan for life

  • Preventative Care
  • Virus