There are now 28 confirmed cases in the mumps outbreak at Ohio State University as of March 18, 2014. All but one of those infected were vaccinated, according to Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for Columbus Public Health. This outbreak could still potentially grow, as students are returning from spring break and could have infected others during the relatively long (15-to 25-day) incubation period for mumps.
The CDC’s recommendation is for two doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. Those affected by the mumps outbreak thus far are considered to be “highly vaccinated.” However, Rodriguez says, “even within folks that are vaccinated, they are still at risk of illness,” and there still remains a 10 to 20% chance of those people who have had the two MMR shots to come down with the mumps.
The Columbus Public Health Department and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are recommending booster vaccines for those students who have only had one shot against mumps, and commencement of the series of vaccines for the unvaccinated, in hopes of containing the mumps outbreak.
Yet some are questioning the long-held concept of “herd immunity,” citing the prevalence of several mumps outbreaks occurring within largely vaccinated populations. Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D., immunologist, is one of a growing number of experts who challenges the mainstream concept of herd immunity, calling it “a flawed concept.” She writes:
“If double vaccination is not enough to patch those alleged vaccine failures and ensure the elusive herd immunity, should we then look forward to triple (or, might as well, quadruple) MMR vaccination strategy to see how that might work out with respect to herd immunity? Or, should we instead re-examine the herd immunity concept itself?
“The herd-immunity concept is based on a faulty assumption that vaccination elicits in an individual a state equivalent to bona fide immunity (life-long resistance to viral infection),… the expectations of the herd-immunity theory are bound to fail in the real world.”
There is also increasing concern about the safety of the MMR vaccine itself. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are two of the more well-known in the anti-vax camp, but they are joined by lots of other parents. The product insert for the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine from Merck acknowledges serious side effects such as encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, arthritis, and more. Others have linked the vaccine to Crohn’s disease.
According to VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), the MMR II vaccine, which is currently the most commonly used version, accounts for the greatest percentage of adverse reactions that have been reported to the organization. There are more reactions reported with this vaccine than for any other, at 13.5 % of total reported reactions.
Both the Italian and the US governments have had court cases in which judges have ruled that there does exist a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.
Americans are sharply divided on the issue. Mumps has been a common childhood disease until recently. Mumps outbreaks are fairly rare, but experts have been dismayed to see that recent outbreaks have been largely among vaccinated populations.
Roman Bystrianyk and Suzanne Humphries, MD, point out that many of the diseases for which vaccines exist, including mumps and measles, were on the decline before the advent of mass vaccinations, indicating that the sacred doctrine that vaccines are what eradicate disease may not be accurate.
But how serious IS mumps? Is avoidance of mumps worth the risk of the vaccine? Mumps is contagious and generally starts out with muscle aches, headache, fever, and fatigue, then progresses toward the characteristic “chipmunk” swelling of the salivary glands. It lasts about two weeks, and there is not really anything that doctors can do for mumps. It has to run its course. Males may experience tenderness and swelling of the testicles. Comfort measures for mumps symptoms include rest, warm or cold compresses, and analgesics. Very rarely deafness or swelling of the brain occur. Most experts insist upon isolation as soon as one is diagnosed with mumps to minimize the spread.
Rest is important, as are fluids, when one catches the mumps. Alternative remedies are generally aimed at boosting the immune system to fight mumps. Homeopathic remedies include belladonna and bryonia. A number of herbs have been suggested for relief of symptoms, including mullein, lobelia, echinacea, and calendula. According to the Essential Oils Pocket Reference, essential oils of thyme, dorado azul, R.C., or Thieves can be used for mumps symptoms.
It appears that this latest mumps outbreak at Ohio State University may not yet be quite over. The school does not mandate the MMR vaccine for its students, but since the mumps outbreak is occurring among almost exclusively among students and others who are vaccinated, it calls into question whether mandatory vaccines would have changed the outcome of this outbreak at all. What do you think?
[image via Bing]