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If you are worried about catching Mumps, then you have definitely driven a long way down Hypochondriac Highway.

Fear not. For one thing, Mumps is unlikely to kill you, although it may cause your face to swell up until you resemble former US president Richard Nixon. This is due to the tendency of the mysteriously named Mumps Virus to attack the salivary glands, causing enlargement of the parotids in your cheeks, a symptom that can be exploited in your local emergency room to fake a toothache and obtain narcotics, and may also make you eligable for public office.

Grown-up guys may experience a less pleasant syndrome of orchitis -- where one or both of your testicles become inflamed, an affliction that can occur up to six weeks after the Richard Nixon phase. Some unfortunate victims can develop pancreatitis, or even meningo-encephalitis, a hard-to-pronounce condition where your brain expands like a wet turnip, potentially leaving you with a comparable level of intellectual function.

Fortunately, unless you were raised by Hippies you have probably had your MMR childhood shots that offer lifelong immunity and have thus eliminated 99% of cases of this highly infectious disease in civilized countries. Because the mild fever and body aches of most cases pass unnoticed, even unvaccinated adults are often immune, a fact that can be checked with expensive blood tests that serve little purpose except to fatten the wallets of laboratory supervisors.

In the year 2012, less than 300 cases were reported in the United States. So quit wasting your time worrying about an illness that has been around so long it doesn't even have a fancy name.

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