Mumps Outbreaks Reported in School Systems of Three States

Mumps outbreaks have recently been reported within the school systems of three states: Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New York.

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.

New York State Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, MD, JD, said, “We are warning colleges and universities in New York State and beyond that the outbreak of mumps in Long Beach could lead to other cases. SUNY Oswego and SUNY Plattsburgh both have high percentages of vaccinated students, and we appreciate their cooperation in doing everything they can to prevent the spread of mumps on their campuses. We urge students, faculty and staff members with symptoms that could indicate mumps to seek medical care.”

Mumps is a highly contagious disease that can be transmitted through sneezing and coughing due to the fact that the disease lives within saliva and fluid secretions within the mouth, nose, and throat. The best way to prevent acquiring mumps is to receive the recommended two-dose vaccination of MMR or MMRV (Mumps, Measles, Rubella, and Varicella). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children under 6 years, the first dose of the vaccine should be administered between the ages of 12 to 15 months and the second dose should be administered between the ages of 4 to 6 years. Children between the ages of 7 and 18, who had never received this vaccination should be administered with the first dose and then in four weeks’ time, the second. Adults should receive one dose of the vaccine if born in or after the year 1957, according to the AOH press release.

Symptoms of mumps are usually exhibited in the 16 to 18 days after exposure, but they have still been reported to appear within 25 days. These symptoms include: swollen cheeks/jaw due to swollen salivary glands that are often very painful, fever, headaches, and loss of appetite, among others, according to the CDC. Those who are exhibiting these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Other preventive measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of mumps is: performing good hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and water often throughout the day), covering your nose as well as your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing or coughing, disinfecting areas that may be infected, not sharing anything that may contain saliva (food, water), and saying home if infected, according to the New York DOH press release.