NW Arkansas Mumps Outbreak

Updated September 13, 2016. (Originally published on September 2, 2016.)

Mumps seen in Northwest Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting an outbreak of mumps in Northwest Arkansas. As of Monday, September 12, 2016, 31 cases have been confirmed and there are 98 more suspected cases.

Since the incubation period for mumps can be two weeks or longer, and mumps is contagious, people throughout Northwest Arkansas are encouraged to be aware of this outbreak.

Unvaccinated students excluded from schools.

The MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) protects vaccinated individuals from mumps. But Arkansas allows exemptions from vaccines. Unvaccinated children attending schools where a case of mumps has been identified will not be allowed to return to school until 26 days from the date of exposure, and until the outbreak has ended.

Children with non-medical exemptions who receive the vaccinations will be able to return to school once they’ve been vaccinated.

Understanding mumps

Mumps used to be a common childhood illness, but vaccinations have made it rare, so most of us are unfamiliar with it. Only about 20,000 cases a year turn up in the United States.

Glands under and around the ears swell and can be visible as puffy, swollen cheeks and jaw. The parotid glands, the salivary glands affected by mumps, will usually be painful. People with mumps often find it painful to swallow, and they may also have a fever, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

Boys may also have sore, swollen testicles.

Mumps usually lasts for a few days to a couple of weeks. There is no cure for mumps, but symptoms usually end after two weeks. There are some possible long-term complications, however.

The disease is spread by a virus, through saliva. Sharing drinks, kissing, or sharing items with someone who is infected are examples of ways that mumps can be spread.  The best way to avoid mumps is the MMR vaccination.

What action should you take?

Don't Let Mumps Spoil Your Fun

Anyone who has not been vaccinated against mumps should be vaccinated. If your child cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or will not be vaccinated for philosophical reasons, you should keep your child home from school until the outbreak in the schools has ended. Visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov to find the local health office near you.

Here is the current recommendation for mumps vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • For children younger than 6 years of age, one dose of MMR vaccine or MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella) vaccine at age 12-15 months, followed by a second dose of either MMR vaccine or MMRV vaccine at age 4-6 years.
  • For children age 7 through 18 years not previously vaccinated, one dose of MMR vaccine or MMRV vaccine, followed by a second dose of either MMR vaccine or MMRV vaccine at least 4 weeks after the first dose.
  • For adults born in 1957 or later and not previously vaccinated, one dose of MMR vaccine.
  • A second dose of MMR vaccine is recommended for adults born in 1957 or later, who are students in a post-secondary educational institution, work in a health care facility, or plan to travel internationally. The second dose should be administered a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

If you have other questions, consult your physician.