What is the role of Rubulavirus (mumps virus) in the etiology of viral meningitis?

Updated: Jul 17, 2018
  • Author: Cordia Wan, MD; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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A member of the Paramyxovirus family, mumps virus was one of the first known causative agents of meningitis and meningoencephalitis. [3]

The incidence of mumps in the vaccination era has decreased significantly to 1 per 100,000 population in the United States.

Nonetheless, outbreaks have occurred in vaccinated populations, including a large epidemic in the United Kingdom that peaked in 2005 and several outbreaks in the American Midwest in 2006. [4, 18] In addition, mumps continues to cause 10-20% of meningitis and meningoencephalitis cases in parts of the world where vaccines are not readily accessible.

Males 16-21 years of age are at highest risk for developing this infection, with a 3:1 male/female ratio.

Clusters of cases occur in schools and colleges in the winter months.

Concomitant parotitis is a helpful clinical tool, but it may be absent in as many as half of cases with CNS involvement.

A cohort study of 12,000 unvaccinated children from northern Finland revealed that mumps meningoencephalitis accounted for 40.9% of all viral CNS infections. Mumps also remains an important cause of aseptic meningitis in England and Japan. [15]

In 2003, epidemics of aseptic meningitis following measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination campaigns in various nations (including Brazil and the UK) prompted the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety to conduct a review of vaccine-derived mumps meningitis. [5] At the time, the committee stated that certain strains of the mumps vaccine (Urabe, Leningrad-Zagreb, and Leningrad-3 strains) were associated with higher incidences of postvaccination aseptic meningitis.

In 2006, the committee determined that the international literature reviewed was actually inconclusive and that further studies were needed. [6] Even so, replacement mumps components were developed and vaccines were reformulated worldwide.

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