State confirms 143 cases of mumps so far this year

The Hawaii Department of Health is tracking mumps cases on Oahu and Kauai.

As of Thursday, July 6, there are a total of 143 confirmed cases; 10 more since the last update on Friday, June 30. 

There are now 134 cases on Oahu, 8 on Kauai, and one on Hawaii island. 

This is now the highest number of mumps cases recorded in a year. The second highest was in 2001, when there were 42 reported cases.

Click here for the latest from the Department of Health.

The DOH is recommending all adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps, who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive at least one MMR vaccine dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose, are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose.

On May 15, the department identified one case on Kauai. A second case was confirmed on May 30.

Health officials said the first case, an adult resident from Kauai, could not be linked to the clusters identified on Oahu. The case had no known travel history and investigation is ongoing to determine if this case is a new introduction or part of the larger Oahu outbreak. The second confirmed case, health officials say, is linked to other cases on Oahu.

To date, none have required hospitalization.

At least 12 schools have notified parents about students getting mumps. The cases include children and adults at Central Middle School, and earlier cases were confirmed at Nanakuli Intermediate. Health officials would not disclose the full list, but say they are working closely with the Department of Education to contact and notify anyone who may have come into contact with the confirmed cases during their infectious periods.

The department is also investigating a cluster of cases exposed at the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo. Click here for more information.

Previous cases were reported in Kaimuki, Waipahu, Kalihi, and Waianae.

“Mumps is currently circulating not only in Hawaii, but also nationwide and in international areas,” health officials said. Click here for a look at mumps outbreaks across the country.

Health officials say at least 14 cases had received two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. At least two patients received one dose.

Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Still, doctors stress that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself.

“Right now the recommendation is two vaccinations. If people are unsure of that they could contact their health provider. There is a way to draw a test for antibodies but also they can get another vaccination. What we are waiting for for the federal level is guidance on whether or not my third vaccine would be recommended. Right now that’s not the case,” said Dr. James Ireland.

“The vaccine is not 100 percent. It’s still the best method of prevention, but it’s not 100 percent. On top of that, it’s the way mumps is spread,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “It becomes even more important when you’re talking about a disease like mumps, because if you compare the two viruses, mumps is probably maybe four or five times more infectious than the flu virus.”

Park says there is a small number of the population whose immune systems do not respond to the vaccine.

The health department tells us that at least 16 of them are under 18 years old.

Park says she isn’t sure why so many of the cases involve juveniles, but notes that there may be missed cases of adults because they don’t normally go to the doctor when they’re sick.

“If you think about it, how many times have you seen an ill coworker still coming in to work?” Park said. “So we do wonder if there may be missed cases out there.”

Park adds that children are at a higher risk because they tend to be in very close settings such as classrooms.

The department says one of the cases is not considered part of the outbreak as they were infected elsewhere and brought the infection home, although the risk remains that that case could expose others and contribute to the current outbreak.

There is also an imported case, which involves a traveler, that is not counted in the state’s total.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. The classic symptom of mumps is called parotitis, which is a swelling of the salivary glands under the ears, resulting in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite.

Persons should seek medical attention immediately if they develop symptoms.

People with mumps are most infectious in the several days before and after the onset of parotitis. The disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Transmission can also occur when sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Persons with mumps should stay home from school or work for nine days after the onset of parotitis to keep from spreading the disease to others.

Health officials say that there is no specific treatment for mumps infection. Most people recover completely.

In children, mumps is usually a mild disease. However, mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. Complications include:

  • Meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord)
  • Deafness (temporary or permanent)
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males who have reached puberty
  • Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty

Officials say that while cases have been reported in vaccinated individuals, the best protection against the disease is vaccinations.

DOH says that all children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose is given at age 12–15 months and the second dose at 4–6 years of age.

All adults born in or after 1957 should also have documentation of vaccination, unless they have had a blood test showing they are immune to mumps. Certain adults at higher risk of exposure to mumps may need a second dose of MMR vaccine.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/mumps/.

Healthcare providers should report any suspected cases of mumps to DOH immediately by calling the disease reporting line at (808) 586-4586.


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