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Surge in Mumps Outbreaks Seen Across the US

DEC 13, 2016 | EINAV KEET
In Washington’s King County, four more cases of the mumps recently brought that outbreak up to 58 cases. The number of cases has continued to rise since local health officials confirmed the first cases in late November. The Washington State Department of Health is now reporting that the mumps outbreak has spread to neighboring Pierce County, where four probable cases are currently under investigation.
Oregon has seen 12 confirmed cases of the mumps so far this year, the highest number of cases there since the state reported 22 cases in 2006. In children between 24 and 35 months living in Oregon, the MMR vaccination rate is 94%, higher than the US average of 91%.
The state of Arkansas has been hardest hit by this year’s mumps outbreak. Officials with the Arkansas Department of Health have more than 2,000 suspected cases of the mumps under investigation, and note that 90% to 95% of school-age children affected in the outbreak have received the full course of the MMR vaccine. The health department is also studying whether the MMR vaccine effectively protects against the strain of the virus currently plaguing the state and other parts of the country.
Health officials in Texas are reporting a growing outbreak of mumps in the state. In the Dallas-area’s Johnson County, 28 cases of the mumps have affected mostly school-age children at area schools. Students in the Texas town of Keene, who visited an area of Arkansas affected by a mumps outbreak, are believed to have brought the virus back with them. At least one confirmed case in a Houston area high school student has district officials on alert and taking measures to prevent a larger outbreak.
According to the CDC, two doses of the MMR vaccine effectively prevent about 88% of mumps infections, while one dose is about 78% effective. Since the mumps vaccine program began in 1967, the US has seen over a 99% drop is mumps cases, though outbreaks can still occur even among those vaccinated. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated children and certain healthy adults receive the MMR vaccine.
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