In 2017, Washington state had over 400 confirmed cases of the mumps. Sound Family Medicine’s Tracie Jefferson, PA, spoke with KOMO News Radio’s “Health Talk” about what you need to know about prevention and treatment.
Below is an audio clip as well as the transcript of the interview which aired February 12th, 2017.
KOMO News Radio Interview Transcript
Host: Ok, Shannon O’Kelley and Tom Hutyler back with another addition of IRG Physical and Therapy’s Health Talk. Time for our first guest and a topic that we are going to talk about today because it’s really been in the news a lot of late, and that is the mumps. How it is spread? What the symptoms of the mumps are? When are you contagious? Do these vaccinations work? Is it something you should get? Well, the first guest is Tracie Jefferson (now Tracie Jefferson) who is a physician assistant from Sound Family Medicine. We’re going to get a lot more information about the mumps and educate you about this resurgent disease.
Let’s hear from Shannon O’Kelley and Tracie Jefferson.
Shannon: Tracie Jefferson, Physician Assistant, how are you doing today?
Tracie: Good, how are you?
Shannon: I’m doing great! Tell us, I mean our listeners are always curious to find out people’s interests, how they became interested in what they do as a profession, particularly a physician assistant. Tell us your background and history.
Tracie: Sure, so I started off as a paramedic, largely in Pierce County. As I furthered my career and learned more about my patients as a paramedic I realized that a lot of them didn’t have a relationship with a primary care provider and that a lot of the 911 calls could have been prevented if more proactive care had happened ahead of time. So that really became a driving force for me to become a physician assistant, particularly in family medicine.
Shannon: Absolutely, so you’re with Sound Family Medicine? Tell us where your locations are.
Tracie: Yes, sir. I am with the Sunrise location. We also have 2 locations closer to the South Hill area and 1 out in Bonney Lake.
Shannon: Tell us about the need for physician assistants, particularly in family medicine. We hear it, we see it in the media. I know the State of Washington has a little shortage in family practitioners, but being a physician assistant tell us about the training and how you became interested as a paramedic. How did you move on to become a PA?
Tracie: Physician assistants, before they enter their training, have a background in healthcare already and a certain expectation for direct patient contact hours. So, we have a foundation in medicine when we start our training. My training program was with the University of Washington through MedEx and we had a 27-month program. It was like drinking water from a fire hose but we got through it. They put us through some really rigorous preceptorships and clinical experiences and then we come out ready to partner with a physician and I’m very fortunate at Sound Family Medicine we have some excellent physicians to partner with and ready to provide patient care and expand access to providers.
Shannon: Tell our listeners, I mean, I think it’s important that our listeners understand when you say you partner with a physician, being a physician assistant, I mean you work closely hand in hand with doctors in your practice.
Tracie: Right, so we have our own panel of patients, we’re licensed to practice medicine. But, we partner with that physician so that when things come up that we need their guidance on, we are able to go to them and we are able to ask questions or when something kind of goes beyond our realm of knowledge, they are able to step in and help guide us with that patient.
Shannon: For our listeners out there looking for a career, I think I googled something the other day the top 25 careers in the future and I think physician assistant was number 5 or something like that, so huge demand?
Tracie: Yes, sir and the demand is exploding as the shortage for primary care providers expands as well as access to healthcare expands. The need is going to continue to grow. And, we simply can’t get physicians out there fast enough to keep up with the demand and so physician assistants help sort of bridge that gap.
Shannon: And going back to where your interest actually started from, I mean it’s interesting that you mentioned that a lot of patients were being seen by EMT’s, or 911 calls, when in fact the reason for that is the shortage in family practice doctors. So, it kinda creates cause and effect.
Tracie: So, a lot of unmanaged high blood pressure, a lot of unmanaged diabetes, poor access to care and some of those chronic health conditions really were a driving factor in many emergency transports.
Shannon: Ok, good stuff, good background, congratulations. Hey, we are going to put you on a medical hot seat so tell our listeners about mumps.
Tracie: So, mumps is a virus. Its spread largely by respiratory droplets. So, coughing, sneezing, sharing water bottles, touching surfaces where maybe people have coughed and not washing their hands then touching a door knob. It’s usually very self-limiting, but it is highly contagious.
Shannon: Highly contagious and again spread by droplets. So, this is an airborne um, contagion?
Tracie: Yes, sir.
Shannon: And coughing, sneezing. So, all the more important that you stay home if you’re sick, right?
Tracie: Yes, so stay home when you have a fever or when you have some of those coughing, sneezing, achy feelings. That’s really important in preventing the spread of not only mumps but the common cold and influenza which we are also seeing a lot of this time of year.
Shannon: Tracie, we were just talking about the mumps and you were describing how its spread – it’s an airborne disease. But you know what I gotta ask ya… the mumps were something, I’m 55 years old, and the mumps were something that went through the neighborhood and I thought was gone. I thought we had vaccinations for this and it was a disease of the past. But, it’s come back with some fury.
Tracie: Yeah, we actually see outbreaks around the country annually and they come up in pockets. The vaccine works about 9 out of 10 times. So even if you have the vaccine, there is still a risk that you could get the illness but you’re more likely to have a less severe course with it, less likely to have some of the complications that can come along with mumps, if you’ve been vaccinated.
Shannon: The vaccination, or the vaccine is, I mean I’m just gonna throw one against the wall here, is that the MMR vaccine?
Tracie: Yeah, that’s the MMR vaccine. So not only does it protect you against mumps, but it also protects you against measles and rubella.
Shannon: And so if you have an MMR vaccination, your saying that there’s a strain of mumps, because I think recently I saw an outbreak of mumps right here in the state of Washington. Is that right?
Tracie: Yeah, we are at almost 300 cases confirmed and probable cases in Washington state for the mumps.
Shannon: What’s the cause? And signs and symptoms? What should you watch for if you’re a parent, because this is a disease that effects kids right?
Tracie: Yeah, it actually can affect people of any age. The ages that we are seeing primarily right now are 5-19 and then again in the 25-44 age group. Symptoms – you’re actually infectious about 3 days before symptoms appear. Symptoms usually start with fever, feeling achy, maybe not wanting to eat as much, and within about 48 hours you get kind of that characteristic “chipmunk cheek”, my mom use to call it.
Shannon: That’s the swelling of the glands – is that’s what’s causing that chipmunk cheek?
Tracie: Yeah, the chipmunk cheek is caused by swelling of some of the salivary glands in the back of the mouth. A lot of times they will start off on one side but usually spreads to the other side within about 48 hours.
Shannon: If you get mumps, um… is it kind of a self-limiting infection? I mean, where it kinda goes away and is there concern?
Tracie: Usually it is a self-limiting infection. But there are complications that can come up from it.
Shannon: What do you have to be concerned about?
Tracie: Orchitis, which is an inflammation and swelling of the testicles, which can lead to some future complications such as reduced fertility. That’s a rare complication, but it can occur so that’s one of the reasons we want to make sure that we prevent the spread of it.
Shannon: And if you have it, um, you can’t really take a shot or can’t get a medication. You’re not going to get rid of it, you just have to help your body fight it?
Tracie: Right. Once it’s there, we just have to kind of let it ride the course and it just takes time to get over it. But once you’ve been exposed, there’s no recommendations for viral therapy, anti-viral therapy or post exposure vaccination to try and prevent from getting it.
Shannon: Well you just mentioned prevention, so what is the best age for a child to be vaccinated for the mumps, or the MMR?
Tracie: So, they can be vaccinated at any age, but we start the first vaccination at as early as 12 months.
Shannon: 12 months, ok. Tracie, thank you for your time. That is a review on mumps. Everybody had thought it had gone away but we just talked about it. There are 300 cases in the state of Washington and if you have any questions or need more information – Tracie, how would we get a hold of you?
Tracie: I’m with Sound Family Medicine and you can go to our website at www.soundfamilymedicine.com or you can reach us by phone at 253-848-5951.
Shannon: Thank you!
Host: If you’d like more information on this topic, as well as how to contact physician assistant Tracie Jefferson, go to www.soundfamilymedicine.com or go to IRGPT.com and click on the “health experts” tab.