Mumps; A mysterious swelling on the cheeks or what?

in StemSociallast year

Several weeks ago, I went to tutor my Class 3 pupil when I discovered a minor swelling around her brother's cheek region.
Curious, I asked their mother what it was but she had no idea, when I left the place I asked people around and my friends but no one seemed to know what it was, despite it being a normal occurrence for children in that area.

On one faithful day, Few weeks back, I went for the tutorial and realized that both my pupil and her cousin now had this swelling and this made me restless looking for answers. I contacted a friend in the medical line and he told me it was MUMPS.

My inquisitive mind wondered “what is this mumps all about?”

Mumps is a contagious infection caused by the Mumps virus, transmitted from one person to another via contact with respiratory secretions like saliva, nasal secretions(through coughing or sneezing) and even close personal contact.

A child with mumps

The mumps virus also known as MuV, is the virus that causes the Mumps infection, it contains a single-stranded, negative-sense genome made of Ribonucleic acid(RNA), and you can as well call it a RNA virus. Its scientific name is known as Mumps Orthorubulavirus.

images (14).jpeg
Mumps Virus

Its genome(the entire genetic material or makeup of an organism) is enclosed by a capsid(a protein coat whose function is to protect the genome of the virus before it gets to the host cell) and is in turn surrounded by a viral envelope acquired on reaching the host cell helping to protect the genetic material of the virus and overcome the immunity while travelling between host cells before and during replication.

MuV replicates in the upper respiratory tract, first by binding to the surface of the host cell, and by doing so , the envelope fuses with the host's cell membrane to release the capsid inside the cell.
Once inside, The segment of the DNA in the host cell that codes for genes is transcribed, or copied, into messenger RNA, known as mRNA; which is the cellular blueprint for the formation of a specific protein. mRNA is transcribed from the genome in the virus and later replicates that same genome. Afterwards, a transfer RNA (tRNA) is formed in a process called translation which helps to transport mRNA to the cytoplasm then to the ribosome of the cell(the ribosome is the protein synthesis factory of a cell).

This process alters the host protein synthesis converting its DNA proteins to viral proteins and in this case MuV proteins also known as Virions , it also uses the cell membrane as the envelope during and after replication.
Humans are the only discovered host of the mumps virus.

Mumps is recognized by;

• Swollen salivary gland
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Fever
• Appetite loss.

But this may differ in some individuals as some may not experience these symptoms.

The major symptom of this infection is the swelling of the Parotid glands, one of the major salivary glands in animals.
In humans the parotid glands are located on both sides of the mouth beside the ears.

Humans have three major and prominent salivary glands and they are;
• Parotid glands
• Submandibular glands
• Sublingual glands

Salivary glands are classified as serous, mucous or seromucous (mixed) glands.

  • In serous secretions, an protein/enzyme; alpha-amylase or ptyalin is produced that breaks down starch converting it to maltose and glucose.

  • In mucous secretions, the major protein produced is mucin which main purpose is lubrication.

  • Seromucous secretions, performs the function of both serous and mucous secretions I.e both the enzymes and mucus.

Parotid glands are the major and largest salivary glands fastened around the lower jaw(mandibular ramus) in humans, secreting saliva to enable chewing and swallowing and release of amylase to begin the digestion of starch. Its secretion(saliva) is drained from the parotid gland into the mouth at the areas of the upper cheek via a duct called Stensen's duct.
It is serous type of gland and it is located beside the ears in the skin as its name implies, Parotid means beside the ear.

Submandibular glands are a pair of major salivary glands after the parotid glands located beneath the lower jaw. The secretion produced is seromucous in nature(but more serous than mucus in nature) and enters the oral cavity via the submandibular duct or Wharton duct; an opening into the floor of the mouth located at the junction or linkage(the Frenulum) between the floor of the mouth and the tongue.

Sublingual glands are a pair of major salivary glands though smaller than the previous two, located at the folds(sublingual folds) under the tongue side by side the Frenulum. Structurally, it is located anterior to the submandibular gland. It is a seromucous gland (but more mucous than serous in nature) and its major function is in the lubrication of the oral cavity.

Location of the salivary glands

Being cleared on the function of each salivary gland most especially the parotid glands, we can as well relate if I say when the parotid glands are affected by the mump virus, swallowing of food becomes difficult.
Mumps can also be called parotitis because it affects the parotid glands.

Swollen parotid gland; Parotitis

How can mumps be treated?

Being a viral infection, mumps does not respond to antibiotics or other medications. However, the symptoms can be attended to.

These includes;

• Taking adequate rest when you experience fatigue or tiredness.
• Take effective pain relievers like ibuprofen to bring down the fever
• Drink a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration due to the fever
• Avoid foods that makes chewing painful and stressful.
• Apply ice packs to soothe swollen glands

Locally, I realized that when children experience mumps, Alligator pepper is applied on the swollen part in the belief that it is an effective treatment for mumps.
I did my research and found that alligator pepper is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to cause relief to pain.
Crushed seeds are applied on the skin as a counter-irritant; an irritant that causes an effect or superficial irritation that tends to relieve pain and deeper inflammation.
Though not scientifically proven but alligator pepper can be said to be quite effective for the treatment of the symptoms of mumps.

Alligator pepper

How can mumps be prevented?

About 90% of all mumps infections occur in children of age 15 and younger but not disputing the fact that it is now rampant in teenagers and even adults.

To prevent Mumps, a vaccination is administered to infants called MMR(Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine.


MMR Vaccine

In most countries, it is now common for infants to be immunized or vaccinated, But most importantly, to prevent Mumps, infants between the ages of 12-15 months are given a first MMR shot and this makes the tendency to not get mumps about 78%.
A second vaccination is administered to school-aged children between 4-6 years and this increases the not getting mumps tendency to 88%.

With all said, we have finally solved the mystery question.

Hope this was insightful, stayed tuned and keep learning.

Bye for now👋 .


- What mumps is
- More about Mumps
- Parotid gland and mumps
- Major salivary glands in humans
- The mumps virus
- Who does mumps happen to; Children or Adults.
- How can Mumps be prevented
- Alligator pepper as a treatment for Mumps
- Anti-inflammatory properties of Alligator pepper
- Replication of MuV in host cells
- Formation of MuV in host cells


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