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Childrearing

Mumps Outbreaks Are Being Reported Across The Country

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(iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

The Center for Disease Control is issuing a warning to parents nationwide as hundreds of cases of mumps are being reported across the country. Since the start of 2017, there have been more than 1,240 instances of mumps, in an outbreak that has many health officials worried. There is additional cause for concern since mumps is easily preventable when following vaccine recommendations.

Mumps is a contagious viral infection which spreads via infected saliva. Coughing, sneezing, kissing, and sharing beverages can all cause the disease to pass from person to person, which is why it is frequently and easily spread among students in close quarters. High school and college students are especially susceptible. Symptoms include swollen and painful salivary glands, loss of appetite, fevers, headache, and fatigue.

This year alone, there have been over 500 cases reported across the state of Washington, including a dozen University of Washington sorority and fraternity-linked students. Four confirmed cases and 35 probably cases have popped up in Illinois, and five confirmed cases have also been reported in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

2016 saw the highest number of reported mumps cases in a decade: a whopping 5,311 incidences according to the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases spokesman, Ian Branam.

So how can you make sure your kiddos avoid contracting mumps? It’s simple, really. Parents should follow their doctor’s recommended vaccination schedule, which includes two doses of the MMR vaccine (that’s measles, mumps, and rubella). They should also make sure to remind their kids to cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing, not share beverages, and frequently wash their hands. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, the two doses help protect against the virus. Older kids who have not obtained one or both vaccines are also encouraged to visit their pediatrician for a preventive dose.

“Because outbreaks of mumps are unpredictable, we don’t know if this level in mumps cases will continue for the remainder of 2017,” said Branam.

Hopefully with more conversations about the importance of this vaccine, families will be able to help prevent the outbreak from spreading any further.

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