Health Watch: Rise in Mumps among Gay and Bisexual Men and Trans Women

Howard Brown Health providers have reported a rise in mumps among gay and bisexual men and transgender women in early 2018. Mumps is a viral illness that is spread through respiratory droplets, saliva and close contact with those who are infected. While mumps outbreaks are much rarer than they were in the recent past thanks to vaccines, cases still happen, particularly in close-contact settings like bars, clubs, parties, and schools. Most adults are vaccinated against the mumps virus through the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, but they can still contract the virus. Although vaccination helps reduce the duration and severity of the infection, it can still be transmitted to others.

Even if you’ve been vaccinated, you should know what mumps looks and feels like. Here are the signs and symptoms of mumps:

  • Swollen salivary glands (also known as parotitis)
  • Fever or headache
  • Aching muscles
  • Weakness / fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling and pain in the testicles
  • Pain when chewing or swallowing

The most commonly reported symptom is painful swelling around the cheeks and jawline.

As of April 2018, Howard Brown has determined that gay and bisexual men and transgender women in Chicago may be at increased risk for mumps. If that’s you, please consider coming in for a booster shot of the MMR vaccination, as recommended by the CDC for at risk populations. If you get primary care at Howard Brown, you can drop in for the vaccination. If you’re not in primary care at HBH, please schedule an appointment to get your MMR booster, if needed. Anyone living with an immunocompromising condition should check in with their provider before receiving the vaccination.

It’s important that you see your healthcare provider if you think you might have mumps to reduce the possibility of infecting others. There is no specific treatment for Mumps, but often your provider can help with supportive care measures while the body works to clear the virus.

Howard Brown has nine clinics across Chicago. Make an appointment today!

Call 773.388.1600 to speak with a Patient Services Representative.

Get more info on mumps from the Center for Disease Control:

Mumps general info:

Mumps booster recommendations:


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