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Number of mumps cases rises; Are you immune?

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DENVER -- The number of mumps cases in Colorado has increased to 53 so far this year. That’s compared to just 17 cases in all of last year.

Many people want to make sure they are protected. There are labs that offer blood tests they say will tell you if you are immune.

Like many people, I had all of my shots as a child and assumed I was protected. But, I don’t have the documentation, so I got the test as part of a news story. I was absolutely shocked when my test came back negative, showing that I was not immune.

But the state epidemiologist gave me some perspective. “Just because the test is negative, doesn`t mean that you aren`t protected,” Dr. Lisa Miller said.  She said the test results don’t correlate very well with actual immunity.

But she said there is some evidence that immunity wanes over time. “We think that may be happening to some degree,” she said.

So what should people like me do if we want to make sure we are protected?

Dr. Miller said if you have documentation that you were immunized, then you are good. If not, then it’s a personal decision. “If people aren`t sure, if you can’t find your records, it doesn`t hurt to get a vaccination,” she said.

Proper immunization is especially important if you are a college student, travel abroad or work in the health care industry.

Mumps can be painful. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Puffy cheeks and jaw

Since the 80s the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella has been given in two doses, and it’s 88 percent effective. Older adults may have had just one dose, but Dr. Miller says that is considered an appropriate vaccination.