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Mumps outbreak at three New Castle County schools

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The Delaware Division of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of mumps cases among school-age children in New Castle County.

As of March 3, DPH had identified nine cases of mumps as part of this outbreak, including seven confirmed cases and two probable cases.

The confirmed cases involve:

♦five at William Penn High School in the Colonial School District,

♦one at George Read Middle School in the Colonial School District,

♦one at St. Georges Technical High School in the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District.

No additional information about those individuals will be provided to protect personal health information, DPH said.

"DPH has been coordinating closely with the impacted schools and school districts since cases were first identified to provide guidance for limiting the spread of illness and to identify any other potential cases. The schools notified their communities of the positive cases and potential exposure to mumps, and provided recommended guidance to families," according to the press release.

DPH advises any student or any member of the household who has symptoms or develops symptoms should be kept at home. In addition, it is recommended that parents of children who may have been exposed to mumps contact their child’s primary care provider. Children with suspected or confirmed mumps should stay home for five days after the onset of parotitis (gland swelling), or as directed by their primary care provider.

About the mumps

Mumps is an acute viral infection spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or talking, sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others, and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that a substantial increase in the number of mumps outbreaks and outbreak-associated cases have occurred in the United States since late 2015.

The symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, body aches, loss of appetite and swelling of parotid salivary gland(s) — glands on the insides of the cheeks, floor of the mouth, and under the tongue. Mumps symptoms could develop from 12 days to 25 days after exposure. As an ongoing preventive measure, it is recommended that individuals follow good hand washing practices. Parents are encouraged to review the immunization records for their children and make sure they are up to date on recommended vaccines, including the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, and to contact their child’s primary care provider with any questions.

Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. However, mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults.

Complications can include:

♦inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems,

♦inflammation of the brain (encephalitis),

♦inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis),

♦inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis),

♦deafness.

Vaccinations available

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Teens and adults who did not get the recommended MMR vaccines per the above schedule should be vaccinated so they are up to date.

It is possible for someone to get the mumps even after they have been vaccinated, however, that is not to say the mumps vaccine is ineffective. MMR vaccine is safe and effective. A person with two doses of MMR vaccine has about an 88% reduction in risk for mumps; a person with one dose has a 78% reduction in risk for mumps. In addition, disease symptoms are milder and complications are less frequent in vaccinated people. Also, high vaccination coverage helps to limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks, therefore it is still very important to be up to date on MMR vaccine.

Individuals with questions should contact their primary care provider or the DPH at 1-888-295-5156.

Mumps is a reportable disease in Delaware. Health care providers should promptly report suspected cases of mumps, and confirmed cases, to the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (OIDE) at 302-744-4990 (normal business hours) or 1-888-295-5156 (outside of normal business hours), fax to 302-223-1540, or email reportdisease@delaware.gov. Providers are asked not to wait for laboratory test results to return before reporting.