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Weak immune response is behind mumps outbreaks.

A weakening immune response to the virus that causes mumps, not mutated strains of the virus, is the explanation behind recent mumps outbreaks in vaccinated populations, according to results of a study.

The authors of the study concluded that these outbreaks, which recently have affected mostly young adults, "reflect a progressively weakening immune response to mumps viruses that occurs over the years following childhood vaccination," according to a summary of the study (J. Virol. 2011 Nov. 9 [doi: 10.1128/JVI.06125111) posted on the Food and Drug Administration's website.

Several of the researchers, including lead author Steven A. Rubin, are from the division of viral products in the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

"The study opens the door to consider whether the most effective strategy would be to revaccinate adolescents in order to restore their immunity to these viruses," not the development of a new vaccine against new strains of the mumps virus, the FDA statement said.

The study involved testing sera from children 6 weeks after they were given the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and found that the antibodies triggered by the vaccine were able to neutralize a variety of strains of the mumps virus, providing "strong evidence [that] mumps viruses were not changing so much that antibodies triggered by the vaccine could no longer recognize them," according to the FDA statement. "Instead, the immune response triggered by the initial vaccination appears to weaken over the years in some people, but can likely be rejuvenated by revaccinating people when they are adolescents."

Experience in the U.S. military, where routine vaccination with MMR vaccine was started in 1991, provides evidence that revaccination could prevent outbreaks, according to the statement. Military recruits who live in close living quarters have not been affected by recent outbreaks in the United States, as opposed to university students who have been so affected.

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Author:Mechcatie, Elizabeth
Publication:Family Practice News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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