Special to The Dallas Examiner
Dallas County Health and Human Services has reported 56 mumps cases in Dallas County since January.
At Cedar Hill High School alone, 42 associated mumps cases between students and teachers have been identified by the DCHHS. An additional 14 unrelated mumps cases in the cities of Mesquite, DeSoto and Dallas have been reported by the agency. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, additional identifying information has not been provided.
Dallas County has actually experienced a total of 66 mumps cases in the past five months – as of March 15. DCHHS released its first health advisory on Nov. 22, 2016, after one confirmed case of the mumps and three probable mump cases were reported in the 75219 zip code. By the end of the year, a total of 10 cases had been confirmed in Dallas County.
On Jan. 19, DCHHS reported an adult from Cedar Hill as its first reported mumps case of the year, followed by a youth or young adult in Mesquite as its second case on Jan. 25. Since then, it has reported additional cases almost weekly.
Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared.
Symptoms of mumps are characterized by fever, headache, swelling of the salivary glands, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of appetite. After exposure, symptoms usually appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12 to 25 days after infection.
Mumps is no longer common since vaccinations against the disease began in 1967 – when almost 190,000 confirmed cases a year were reported across the country. Now, on average, less than 2,000 cases a year are reported nationally. However, last year, the United States saw a spike of 5,311 cases – the highest spike since 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This year, Texas is among five states experiencing a breakout. Arkansas health officials have reported the largest number of mumps cases, with 2,852 confirmed and suspected cases. Mississippi has the second highest number of confirmed cases, but still less than 100. Health officials have indicated that a number of unvaccinated children may have contributed to the outbreak. Overcrowded conditions may also contribute to the spread, according to the CDC.
DCHHS health officials urge immunization to protect against and prevent the spread of mumps. People who have had two mumps vaccinations – such as two MMR vaccines – are usually considered immune from mumps. A third dose of the MMR vaccine is only recommended by the CDC when an individual is associated with an ongoing outbreak.
“At two doses, the MMR vaccine very impactful at 88 percent effectiveness,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, Dallas County medical director/health authority. “Getting vaccinated is the best option for protection in addition to washing hands frequently and cleaning/disinfecting objects or surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.”
DCHHS provides the first and second dose of the MMR vaccine for children and adults at the main clinic located at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals associated with an outbreak should call 214-819-2163 for a possible third dose.
“The increased number of mumps cases reported in the North Texas area underscore the importance of getting vaccinated,” said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson.
What to do if you become infected with mumps:
Contact your health provider.
Stay at home for five days after symptoms begin.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
For information, visit http://www.dallascounty.org/ department/hhs/mumps.html.