By Asmau Ahmad
Dr Babatunde Ogunbosi, lecturer and Consultant Paediatrician, Infectious Diseases Unit, University College Hospital, Ibadan (UCHI), on Friday said mumps was the most contagious disease amongst children. Ogunbosi who said this during an interview with the newsmen in Ibadan, also advised mothers to prevent their babies from contacting the disease.
He said mumps is caused by a virus called paramyxo virus and can travel in the air through coughs and sneezes. The consultant added that the virus may be found on surfaces that people touch, such as door handles or it could be picked up from cups, cutlery, bowls or plates.
“The most common symptoms of mumps is swollen salivary glands (parotid) in the neck; the swelling can be on one or both sides of the neck.
“Mumps can be prevented in 95 per cent of cases through the routine MMR vaccination in childhood or later in life.
“Mumps are contagious usually before symptoms are noticed and have an incubation period of 7-18 days after exposure.
“The most common symptoms in infants and toddlers are swellings on the neck, pain and discomfort from the swelling, fever, headache, dry mouth, joint aches and general malaise.
“Ear pain may be felt by the child when chewing and a sour taste in the mouth may be experienced and swallowing may be difficult,” he said.
Ogunbosi explained that mumps if not treated early could result in complications like meningitis and painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries. He said that in rare cases neurological damage, hearing loss, pancreatitis and even death may occur. The lecturer added that most infected children with no complications get better and have no further side effects. He said diagnosis of mumps could be done from the symptoms a patient has, especially the swollen glands; blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests may be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
The paediatrician explained that treatment for mumps include the use of age-appropriate pain killers to relieve the symptoms. He suggested a cold compress such as a moist flannel which should be placed on the swollen glands. Ogunbosi recommended resting and drinking plenty of fluids as well as having food that do not need to be chewed. The consultant, however, advised that any child with mumps should be kept away from school to prevent its spread, until five days after symptoms begin.