Measles, mumps and rubella are all childhood illnesses that have been nearly eliminated in the United States due to the widespread use of the MMR vaccine. The MMR Immunity Profile is used to screen for the presence of viral antibodies that are presumptive evidence of immunity to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella assuming that there are no signs of acute infection. Anyone who would like to know if they have immunity against these potentially dangerous diseases can utilize the MMR Immunity Profile to discover this information. Healthcare workers are commonly required to be screened regularly for MMR (as well as Varicella Zoster Virus) since they could carry the highly contagious disease to patients.
What are Measles, Mumps and Rubella?
Measles is an infection caused by a virus. This virus affects the health of children, and it is possible for measles to be fatal. While measles was once a serious danger for children living in the U.S., the prevalence of the MMR vaccine has made measles relatively rare today.
Mumps is a virus that affects glands that regulate saliva. As with measles, mumps is an illness that was once prevalent in the U.S. but the MMR vaccine has helped to drastically reduce the disease. People who contract mumps have a small chance of losing their ability to hear. However, this complication of the disease is rare.
Rubella, a virus also called German measles, is often confused with measles. However, rubella is a milder illness that can go undetected due to its minor symptoms. The virus is spread through droplets of moisture that are infected. For example, a person who is infected with rubella may spread the virus to a healthy person by a cough or a sneeze. While rubella tends to be a minor illness, pregnant women who contract the disease can spread the virus to their unborn baby. Birth defects including cataracts, deafness, liver damage and heart defects have been linked to rubella.
Symptoms of Measles, Mumps and Rubella
Measles typically causes symptoms about two weeks after a person has been exposed to the virus. Symptoms of measles include cough, runny nose, fever, sensitivity to light, large rashes and white spots in the mouth. The virus can cause life-threatening complications.
Mumps causes swelling in the salivary gland that is infected with the virus. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, jaw pain, fever, headache and muscle weakness.
Rubella shows little to no symptoms in children. However, it is possible for people over the age of 20 to contract the illness. This age group tends to experience symptoms including pink eye, rash, swollen joints and headache. Occasionally, women who contract rubella develop arthritis.
Prevalence of Measles, Mumps and Rubella in the United States
Prevalence of these three diseases has been significantly decreased in the United States due to the widespread use of the MMR vaccine. However, measles is on the rise as more people choose not to have their children vaccinated against the virus. Nearly eradicated just a decade ago, there are now over 200 cases of the dangerous virus reported each year.
Mumps once affected hundreds of thousands of people every year, but there are now less than one thousand people infected with the virus each year. Outbreaks of mumps have occurred since the vaccine was introduced. The most recent outbreak affected over 3,500 people in 2009. Approximately one in every 20,000 cases of mumps results in a loss of hearing.
Rubella is most likely to affect adults. Approximately 70 percent of people who contract the disease are over the age of 18. Rubella cases that lead to birth defects are typically associated with foreign-born mothers who were not vaccinated against the disease. Over 90 percent of mothers in the U.S. who have babies with rubella-related birth defects are from another country.
Related Tests to Consider Through Health Testing Centers
Anyone who would like to ensure that the immunizations that they have received have successfully provided them with immunity against the associated disease may want to consider other immunity tests. Immunity tests that are available through Health Testing Centers include: