Health officials: King County mumps cases rise to 31 in 'emerging outbreak'

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Officials say the number of patients in King County believed to have mumps rose Friday to 22 in what they are describing as an "emerging outbreak."

Monday, officials said there was another increase, bringing the number of mumps cases identified in the Auburn area to 31: 6 confirmed and 25 probable. Ten additional cases are under investigation. 

Of the confirmed and probable cases, King County health officials said 20 were in children ages 1 to 17 years old. 

Public Health Seattle & King County said Friday that five cases were confirmed, 17 were probable cases and four other cases were under investigation.

Key developments: 

  • Health officials first announced 14 cases of mumps. 
  • An increase was announced on Friday and another on Monday. 
  • Officials say 20 of the cases involve children from ages 1 to 17.
  • Scroll down below to read a questions-and-answers section provided by the health department. 

Officials said Monday two of the children had not been vaccinated and four of the adults did not know whether or not they had been vaccinated. 

All others were up-to-date with their vaccine.

Of the confirmed or probable cases, five of them are from the same family.

Dr. Jeff Duchin of the health department says some people don't respond to the vaccine so outbreaks can still occur, but if unvaccinated, many more people would become ill.

“It does leave some number of people who may still be vulnerable and can acquire the infection and spread it,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, with the Seattle King County Health Department.

But Duchin said the vaccine is still worth getting: “Before we had the vaccine, mumps was a major cause of viral meningitis, cause inflammation of the brain, of the testes, of the ovaries in women.”

Once a person is vaccinated, there is no need for booster shots.

Officials say anyone with symptoms should stay away from others and not attend school until five days after their glands swell.

Officials say mumps used to be a major cause of meningitis and inflammation of the brain, testes or ovaries. 

Here’s a question and answer section provided by the health department.

What is mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw. Most people recover from mumps in a few weeks. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications that may require hospitalization, including inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and deafness. Up to 30% of people with mumps infection will have no symptoms.

How is mumps spread?

A person with mumps can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It can also be spread by sharing cups or eating utensils, and by touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Who is at higher risk of getting mumps?

  • Infants who are too young to receive MMR vaccine (under 1 year of age).
  • Children over 1 year of age who are not fully vaccinated: Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12-15 months of age, and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not previously had mumps disease.
  • If you are unsure whether you or your child have been vaccinated, please contact your health care provider.

How to prevent mumps

  • Make sure you and your children are up to date on MMR vaccine.Visit the Mumps Vaccination page to see recommendations for different groups.
  • Stay away from anyone who has mumps.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid sharing drinks or eating utensils.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters.

What to do if you have symptoms

  • If you or your child has symptoms of mumps (fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen cheeks or jaw), call your healthcare provider.
  • Stay home and away from other persons and from public settings until you or your child has been evaluated by a healthcare provider.

What Public Health is doing

Investigation of infectious diseases is one of the essential services provided by Public Health - Seattle & King County. We will continue to identify and investigate any additional cases of mumps. We are also alerting healthcare providers and working with schools and communities in King County to provide education about preventing mumps. Increased cases of mumps have been identified nationwide, so we are sharing information and coordinating with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health departments in other states.

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