Mumps is marked by a swelling of the salivary glands, giving the victim a characteristic chipmunk-like appearance. Most victims have fever and headache, and a few suffer from hearing loss, meningitis and swollen testicles that can lead to infertility. It was once a common disease in the U.S., with an average of 186,000 cases per year before the mumps vaccine, now included in the mumps-measles-rubella, or MMR, vaccine was introduced in 1967. The mumps part of MMR is thought to be the least effective of the three vaccines, with 73% to 91% of those vaccinated obtaining proteciton after one dose and 79% to 95% after two doses.
Patient zero in the current outbreak was an 11-year-old boy who returned from England on June 17. Mumps has become more common in that country recently because of the substantial number of parents who refuse to let their children receive the MMR under the misguided belief that the vaccine can cause autism. About 7,400 cases of mumps were reported in Britain last year.Orthodox Jews have accounted for more than 97% of cases, and the majority -- 61% - -are among 7- to 18-years-old. More than three-quarters of the patients are male. Among those for whom vaccination status is known, 88% had received one dose of MMR and 75% had received two doses.
The threat of sterility needs to be especially emphasized. In Orthodox Judaism, there are few things more important than having children. Mumps can induce infertility in both males and females. It is not at all unlikely that children who have gone through this epidemic will have trouble finding marriage prospects. Thus, the failure to vaccinate has produced what may become terrible, long-term problems for many children for the rest of their lives. The Orthodox unwillingness to vaccinate has become a self-inflicted wound. In this case, anti-science attitudes were far from harmless and the results may yet grow to more seriously threaten both the Orthodox population and other people as well. Failure to vaccinate children creates serious risk to your children and the people around your children. Vaccinate. For some of these children, it is already too late. They will bear the physical and social scars of their parents' decisions.