Nebraska sees 'significant' increase in mumps cases amid recent outbreaks

Nebraska health officials this week announced there has been a “significant” increase in mumps cases following two outbreaks in the state.

In a statement Thursday, officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced the agency has identified some 30 cases of mumps, a viral infection that most commonly affects a person’s salivary glands.

Most of the cases were reported among those who attended a wedding in northeastern Nebraska, officials said, as well as “a workplace in Four Corners Health Department's jurisdiction," which comprises Butler, Polk, York, and Seward counties.

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Most people infected with the mumps experience pain and swelling on one or both sides of the face, fever, headaches, muscle aches, and jaw pain, among other symptoms. Men may experience testicular pain.

The illness is highly contagious — it spreads easily through saliva, even by “breathing in saliva droplets from an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed,” says the Mayo Clinic. 

Though a vaccine can prevent the illness, there is no specific treatment for mumps once a person is infected.

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In severe cases, complications can include hearing loss, inflammation of the brain, miscarriage, and heart problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Mumps is a highly contagious illness and it's spread by coughing, sneezing and sharing saliva," said Tom Safranek, the state epidemiologist for the Nebraska DHHS, in a statement. “If people start experiencing mumps-like symptoms, they should contact their health care provider, and health care providers should be on the lookout for mumps cases."

Last year, Nebraska reported 12 cases of mumps. The 30 cases so far this year is the greatest amount the state has seen since 2016, when 49 cases were reported, according to health officials.