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Mumps Outbreaks Reported in School Systems of Three States

SEP 22, 2016 | KRISTI ROSA
A highly contagious viral disease has recently shown up in the school systems of three states: mumps. Cases have been reported and are under investigation in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New York, according to a recent press release. Although mumps is not as common as it used to be within the United States due to increased vaccination efforts, outbreaks still happen from time to time, making individuals who have not received childhood vaccinations especially vulnerable for infection.

A mumps outbreak was recently reported in Springdale, one of the largest cities in Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is currently investigating schools within the Springdale, Huntsville, and Rogers School Districts, in an attempt to identify cases and prevent further spread of the disease. The ADH is grouping together the number of suspected and confirmed cases to form a case count that will be updated periodically on their website. As of September 22, the number of “total cases under investigation” is 297, according to the ADH website.

The ADH has taken action in an effort to quell the outbreak by instructing students who have not received the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine to stay home from school for the duration of 26 days “from the date of exposure and until the outbreak has ended,” according to the ADH website. Those who receive the two doses of MMR that are recommended can return to school. In addition, the ADH is assisting individuals who have potentially been exposed to the virus as well as creating awareness of impending cases of the disease within local healthcare facilities.

Meanwhile, individuals in Garfield County, Oklahoma, are experiencing similar concerns. According to the Mumps Outbreak Summary, there have been 26 confirmed cases of mumps and 7 cases that are under investigation. The OSDH will provide the public with updates on Mondays and Thursdays before 10 am.

State Epidemiologist Kristy Bradley, DVM, MPH, stated, “If parents observe symptoms of mumps in their child, we are strongly requesting that the child be kept at home for the five days after those symptoms are discovered. This is the most effective way to prevent the disease from spreading.”

As of Thursday, September 15, two confirmed mumps cases were reported to the New York State Department of Health (DOH); these cases occurred at SUNY Oswego, which is thought to potentially link back to an outbreak that had occurred recently in Long Island, and SUNY Plattsburgh, where the source is currently unknown, according to a recent press release.

As is common protocol, the New York DOH also urges those who have been exposed or who have not received the recommended vaccinations to exclude themselves from campus.

Big advances in treatment can't make up for an inability to stop new infections, which number 5,000 per day worldwide.