How Iowa Got the Mumps

The largest outbreak to hit the U.S. in nearly 20 years is spreading to other states

The largest outbreak of mumps to hit the U.S. in nearly 20 years has epidemiologists scratching their heads. After all, the illness, with its characteristic inflamed salivary glands and swollen throat, is relatively rare in North America, thanks to the widespread availability of a childhood vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (the so-called MMR shot).

Nobody was too alarmed in December when the first few cases were reported to Iowa's health officials; the state has been averaging about five cases of mumps a year, so the numbers weren't out of line. By last week, however, the total of known and suspected...

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