A U.S. soldier based in Vicenza, Italy, was recently diagnosed with the mumps virus while on temporary duty to Germany, the Army said Friday.
Army officials believe the servicemember contracted the virus before he left Italy and brought it with him to Germany, where he was training at Grafenwoehr. The soldier was diagnosed with mumps on Wednesday.
Army officials are now urging base personnel to stay up to date on their vaccinations.
“Out of an abundance of caution, anyone who had close contact with the affected individual has been contacted and is receiving appropriate medical evaluations and vaccinations,” the Army said in a statement Friday.
The Army has contacted individuals who have had prolonged contact to the soldier and tested them to prevent the virus from spreading.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, a loss of appetite and, most recognizably, swollen glands under the ears or jaw. Not all people who get mumps have all of the symptoms.
Soldiers are typically vaccinated against mumps, measles and rubella in the common MMR vaccination.
“All soldiers are required to receive the MMR vaccine and remain current as part of their medical readiness,” Alain Polynice, a spokesman for Medical Department Activity Bavaria, told Stars and Stripes on Friday.
The soldier treated for mumps at Grafenwoehr was up to date on all his vaccinations, including MMR, Polynice said.
Army medical staff vaccinated some 200 soldiers against mumps after several paratroopers in Italy showed symptoms of the virus and one tested positive for it in Germany, according to Military.com
The response was done out of “an abundance of caution,” said Maj. Chris Bradley, a 173rd Airborne Brigade spokesman. “We wanted to make sure that nobody was spreading it.”
However, the vaccine is not 100% effective.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one dose of the MMR vaccine is about 78% effective at preventing mumps. A second dose increases the effectiveness to 88%.
“MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease,” Polynice said.
Some people who receive two doses of MMR can still get mumps, especially if they have prolonged, close contact with someone who has the disease. But if a vaccinated person does get mumps, they will likely have a less severe illness than an unvaccinated person, he added.
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