Public urged to get mumps vaccine with outbreak affecting adults, adolescents

State health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated as Hawaii’s ongoing mumps outbreak reaches 770 cases.

As of Jan. 4, the count breaks down to 610 on Oahu, 108 on Hawaii Island, 49 on Kauai and 3 on Maui.

While mumps is commonly considered a disease that only affects young children, the Hawaii Department of Health says this particular outbreak is affecting primarily adults between the ages of 20 and early 40s and adolescents ages 10 and older.

“We strongly recommend getting an outbreak dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, especially for those who live, work, or socialize regularly in crowded settings,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division. “It’s also important to stay home when sick and even consider methods of social distancing, which includes avoiding crowded settings and gatherings, and not hugging or kissing when greeting others.”

Based on the cases health officials have been able to track, they say the common denomination has been exposure to some type of gathering, like school, work, church, a family gathering or other social event.

The ongoing mumps outbreak is by far the worst in several decades for Hawaii, which typically has fewer than 10 cases a year.

In previous years, mumps cases were imported, but recently outbreak cases have been acquired locally.

What began in March 2017 as two clusters of cases involving nine individuals on Oahu, increased to 500, with confirmed cases in all counties, by late October 2017.

The most common symptoms of mumps include swollen glands in front of ears or jaw on one or both sides, fever, muscle aches, headache, loss of appetite, and tiredness.

Patients with symptoms of mumps should contact their healthcare provider for testing.

The MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies. Click here to locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you.

Click here for more information about mumps from the Department of Health.

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