State health officials keeping watch over mumps outbreak

DOVER — The 11 cases of mumps confirmed by the state last month are more than Delaware saw from 2003 to 2017.

The Division of Public Health on March 22 announced three cases of mumps, a viral infection that often results in fatigue, headache, loss of appetite and, most noticeably, a swollen face.

The number of cases grew to nine -week later and 11 one day after the second announcement.

All 11 of those individuals attended or live with someone who attended -Mexican dance in Wilmington Feb. 10 or March 3. Both dances were held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

DPH urges anyone who attended either event to see a doctor to determine if they contracted mumps.

“We can prevent further spread of the disease through vaccination and are urgently asking anyone who attended the dance, whether or not they developed symptoms, and those living with persons who are confirmed to have mumps, to contact their primary care provider as soon as possible for evaluation for mumps and vaccination where recommended,” the division’s director, Karyl Rattay, said in a statement.

According to the agency, there were 10 cases in Delaware between 2003 and 2017.

DPH said there have been more outbreaks nationwide over the past two and a half years, especially in schools, colleges and camps.

Mumps spreads through saliva or mucus and can be transferred by a cough, sneeze or kiss.

“Mumps outbreaks can occur any time of year,” DPH Medical Director Awele Maduka-Ezeh said in an email. “A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in a dormitory with a person who has mumps.

“Also, certain behaviors that result in ex changing saliva, such as kissing or sharing utensils, cups, lip balm or cigarettes, might increase spread of the virus.”

Symptoms generally appear about two and a half weeks after infection but may pop up earlier or later, and some people with mumps may not display any symptoms.

Individuals known or believed to have mumps are urged to stay home until five days after the emergence of swollen salivary glands.

There is no specific treatment for the virus.

While mumps is generally mild, it can cause complications, especially in adults. Sufferers can have inflammation of the brain, surrounding tissue, testicles, ovaries or breasts, as well as deafness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella at 12 to 15 months and then again at 4 to 6 years.

It also calls for individuals at a high risk of exposure to people with mumps to get a third dose of the vaccine.

While some diseases have spread in recent years due to increased numbers of people not vac cinating their children, mumps has been found in those who have gotten their shots as well as those who haven’t.

The vaccine remains heavily recommended, and two doses of it is 88 percent effective in regard to preventing mumps.

Delaware requires students in the school system be vaccinated for a variety of diseases, including mumps, measles and hepatitis B. The state does offer exemptions for children with weakened immune systems and on religious grounds.

Individuals who attended the dance event or live with someone who has mumps and are not covered by their health insurance can contact the state for assistance.

In New Castle County, people can call the Hudson State Service Center Immunization Clinic at 283-7587 to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated. Kent County residents can contact the Kent County Immunization Clinic at 857-5140, and those in Sussex County may call the Georgetown Immunization Clinic at 515-3220.

Possible cases of mumps should be reported to DPH by phone at 744-4990, by email at reportdisease@ state.de.us or by fax at 223-1540.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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