Outbreaks

Mumps cases rise to nearly 300 in Washington state, officials report

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The outbreak of mumps cases in Washington state has reached nearly 300, officials confirmed Friday. That includes the 90 cases that KREM reported are in Spokane alone.

WDEF.com reported that the Washington State Department of Health is encouraging people to get vaccinated if they are not already and to take certain precautions in social settings during the winter season.

“Avoid kissing, hugging and other close contact with anyone who is suspected of having mumps,” the department states on its website.

The cases, which span five counties, affect mostly school children.

The news station reported 160 cases are likely in Kings County, which includes Seattle. In addition to the 90 reported in Spokane, at least 35 have been confirmed in Pierce County, while three have been reported in Snohomish and one in Yakima County, according to WDEF.

Mumps causes muscle pain, loss of appetite, fever, headache and swollen glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus can lead to brain infections, including meningitis, deafness, as well as painful swelling of the ovaries or testicles, and, in rare cases, sterility.

To prevent mumps, for most people, the CDC recommends the first dose of the MMR vaccine— which protects against measles, mumps and rubella—at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years. In some cases, individuals can get the second dose earlier as long as it’s at least 28 days after the first dose.

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Although all states require children to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases to attend school— usually both private or public— states can establish their own vaccination exemption laws. In Washington, parents may opt their children out of vaccination with “a statement to be signed by a health care practitioner stating that he or she provided the signator with information about the benefits and risks of immunization to the child,” according to the CDC. 

Two doses of the MMR vaccine is thought to be 88 percent effective, according to the CDC. Because mumps is viral, the virus doesn't respond to antibiotics. According to Medical News Today, drinking plenty of fluids and getting lost of rest can aid recovery time. Most individuals recover from mumps in two weeks.

The CDC reported a significant rise in mumps cases in 2016, when 5,311 cases in 46 states and the District of Columbia were reported. In 2015, only 1,300 cases were reported, and only 229 in 2012.