State investigates cluster of mumps cases in Waimanalo

The Hawaii Department of Health is investigating a cluster of mumps cases at Hawaii Job Corps Center in Waimanalo.

Job Corps is a free technical training program run by the U.S. Department of Labor. Students are between ages 16 and 24.

A parent of a student who dorms at Hawaii Job Corps Center says there could be as many as 11 cases on campus.

“She had said it started two weeks ago with three students, that she actually had to physically change rooms to another rooms. I guess they were trying to isolate the students,” explained parent Sidney Rodrigues.

Mumps is highly infectious and can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Click here for a current tally.

Rodrigues says his daughter, who currently is not infected, learned of more cases the next week “and then yesterday afternoon, she was informed not to come to campus because there are 11 cases and maybe more, and they didn’t want her to come back at this point. This was texted to her: ‘Do not come back to campus. Go back home
and await further instructions.'”

A manager at Hawaii Job Corps Center says she could not release any specifics about a mumps outbreak on campus. However, the training institute says 177 students are currently enrolled. There are 125 employees, and 163 students live on campus.

Those who came in contact with the individuals during their infectious period are being notified. The Department of Health is working closely with the Job Corps Center to monitor all program participants and staff to identify, control, or prevent additional cases.

The Department of Health said in a statement:

“We are working closely with the Medical Director and staff at Job Corps to assure they have the support they need to address ill persons and any other concerns (including informing and monitoring program participants and staff) per our recommendations. The cases at Job Corps had verified vaccination. Beyond this, we cannot provide further comment, to protect the confidentiality of the persons involved. In regards to cleaning, there are no special requirements. Surfaces should be cleaned as per routine with regular detergents and other cleaning agents.”

Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective.

Still, Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room physician, believes it’s the best way to protect yourself from the disease.

“Why is it that there are some who have been vaccinated and are still getting it?” KHON2 asked.

“Because the immunizations don’t confer 100-percent immunity,” he replied. “It’s just a question of population and population density in certain areas when there’s an outbreak. That’s why you see it at a school, or at a camp, or maybe big company where there’s a lot of people when you get an outbreak. I think there’s been a trend where some groups of people don’t get immunized and then it can really spread.”

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