RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - If you are old enough, you may remember having the Mumps. A Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine has been available since 1971. But now health experts are reporting a 10-year high in the number of Mumps cases. Locally there’s been an increase as well.
A classic case of Mumps usually occurs in children. It is characterized by enlarged salivary glands, which results in puffy cheeks and swollen jaw; there is also a fever, loss of appetite, head and muscle aches. The patient is contagious a few days before and five days after the onset of symptoms--which can last up to a week.
It's not a common disease here in the US. But this month alone, 42 states have reported mumps cases totaling more than 4200.
“So far in 2016 we've confirmed 3 cases of mumps. One is in a young child. And there are 2 in adults. And we are investigating a 4th case in an older child,” says Dr. Randall Todd with the Washoe County Health Department.
That doesn't sound like a lot, but considering this county has not seen a mumps case in several years, it is cause for concern.
Seven states are reporting more than 100 cases so far this year; they are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma. The patients in Washoe County did not travel to those areas.
The virus travels through droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat from an infected person. It is estimated one mumps patient can infect between four and seven people. The question is: Why the outbreak?
“And it seems to go in cycles when we look at the case counts nationally by year,” says Dr. Todd.
That's one theory. Another, not enough children are getting vaccinated.
Some have theorized the virus has mutated. There also may be a problem with the shipping, handling and administration of the vaccine.
When outbreaks like this occur, it reveals a crack in the system. No doubt community health experts will find those cracks, and attempt to seal them.