February 24, 2017 – The Nevada County Public Health Department has recently received reports of two cases of mumps at Bear River High School. Given the contagious nature of the mumps virus, more cases are likely in Nevada County.

In the United States, 2016 saw the largest number of mumps cases in the past 10 years. Before there was a vaccine for it, mumps was a common childhood disease with over a hundred thousand cases per year. Now mumps cases vary from a few hundred a year to several thousand. Mumps is caused by a virus and infection often leads to swelling of the salivary glands on the side of the face under the ears. Infections may also cause fatigue, achiness, and fever. Men and adolescent boys can develop pain and swelling in their testicles though this rarely causes sterility. On occasion, mumps can cause serious problems like meningitis, brain swelling, and deafness. Some people who get mumps do not have any symptoms but can still spread the virus. Frequent handwashing can help prevent transmission.

Much of the increase in recent cases has been due to outbreaks on college campuses where close living conditions help spread the infection. People who become infected often do not show signs of the illness until 2-3 weeks after exposure. People with mumps should stay home and try to avoid close contact with others until at least 5 days after the salivary glands begin to swell. It is important to call your healthcare provider if you suspect mumps.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine prevents most but certainly not all cases of mumps. Close to 90% of people who have had two doses of MMR have protective antibodies against mumps. As most college students have been vaccinated, the majority of cases have actually occurred in vaccinated people. However, people who have received 2 doses of MMR vaccine are about nine times less likely to get mumps than unvaccinated people with the same exposure. Individuals born before 1957 likely had mumps as a child and are generally considered immune to it. For children, the recommended age for the first dose of MMR is 12-15 months. The second dose is usually given when a child is 4-6 years old but can be given as early as 28 days after the first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults born in or after 1957 who have not had mumps receive at least one dose of MMR in their lifetime. Some adults are recommended to have two doses of MMR including healthcare personnel, international travelers, and those attending post-high school educational institutions. Your healthcare provider can help you decide on vaccination needs.

“We ask the community to be aware of the potential for mumps and to seek medical care if symptoms develop,” said Dr. Ken Cutler, Nevada County Health Officer. “While most who get mumps have only a mild illness and recover fairly quickly, we want to prevent this viral infection from spreading because it can cause serious health complications for some.”

For more information about mumps visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website located at https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/about/index.html.