Thursday, June 01, 2006
Rare cases of mumps should not be a concern

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

Recently, the childhood disease mumps has made the headlines. We have been using mumps vaccine for many years so that it is not seen very much any more. We have been using a vaccine for mumps for more than 25 years. It has been given to all children since about 1979. It is given in the form of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Some children received it prior to that time. It was a single vaccine and not in combination. In 1968, there were more than 150,000 cases of mumps reported. In recent years that number has been fewer than 1,000. Mumps has always been a relatively mild disease. Most patients with it are sick for just a few days. It commonly causes swelling of the salivary glands at the side of the face. We only treat symptoms. There is not a drug to use to treat it. It is caused by a virus. The virus is contained in saliva. It can be spread one to two days before symptoms begin. It can also be found in saliva for up to five days after symptoms begin. The incubation period is 16 to 18 days. This is longer than most viral infections. Because it is mild, there is really not much of a reason to be concerned about the illness itself. However, we do know that illness in adults can be more severe than illness in children. That is one of the reasons that outbreaks like the ones we are seeing sometimes worry people. One of the effects in adult males can be involvement of the testicles. This is a common occurrence in adult males. However, it rarely leads to problems with sterility after the infection. As with all diseases, there are some very rare complications that we seldom see. For example, pregnant women have a statistically higher rate of miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy. However, there is no evidence that there is any damage to infants who are carried to full term. There is no good evidence that new cases represent a failure of the vaccine. There is no good evidence that they represent loss of immunity. No vaccine we use is 100 percent effective. That is the reason that we give multiple doses. That gets us closer to 100 percent protection. The estimate is that any vaccine is only 95 to 99 percent effective. That means that between one and five out of every 100 individuals who get the disease will not be protected. The number of cases of mumps that have occurred is consistent with that. The bottom line in all this is that mini-epidemics as we have been seeing are not a surprise. Mumps is a relatively benign disease. It should not be a major concern for us.

Blood Bank appointments can be scheduled on Web
In between e-mails, online shopping and Internet searches, Web browsers across Delmarva can now add another task simplified by technology Ð requesting a blood donation appointment. Blood Bank of Delmarva recently unveiled two new options on its Web site, Individuals can now request a blood donation appointment at the location, date and time that best suits their needs and/or they can complete a Blood Bank membership enrollment form. Blood Bank membership covers blood replacement fees whenever the member or the member's dependents need blood transfusions. "Both processes take less than two minutes and are designed to help people keep blood donation at the top of their 'to do' lists," said Robbie Tarpley Raffish, Blood Bank spokesperson. "We wanted to make the steps for requesting an appointment or becoming a Blood Bank member as easy as possible, and we are pleased to say that in the first few weeks in which we have debuted the program, it has been welcomed by donors with open arms." One reason for the move to online communication is the need to attract and retain younger blood donors (ages 17-35) who make up less than seven percent of Blood Bank members. Request a blood donation appointment on-line:
  • Visit:
  • Click on "giving blood."
  • Complete the form, click on submit.
  • Blood Bank of Delmarva will contact sender in one to two business days.
For more information, call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8

Living wills seminar set at Greenwood CHEER
The Greenwood CHEER Center, 12713 Sussex Highway, is offering a presentation on living wills and power of attorney Tuesday, June 6, at 10:30 a.m. For more information call the center at 302-349-5237.

Seminar for stroke victims and caregivers
The partnership of CHEER'S Caregiver Resource Center and the Delaware Stroke Initiative is sponsoring a seminar for stroke survivors and their caregivers Thursday, June 22, from 10 a.m. to noon at the CHEER Community Center, 20520 Sand Hill Road, Georgetown. To register, call 854-9500.