The mumps outbreak in Northwest Arkansas has grown to 135 suspected and confirmed cases, according to the latest data from The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). This is the largest cluster of mumps cases that Arkansas has experienced since 2010.
Three school districts have reported mumps cases after the Huntsville School District recently seen confirmed cases. Huntsville joins Springdale and Rogers school districts.
In response to the outbreak, ADH is requiring students in the same school with vaccine exemptions for the MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella) vaccine to be excluded from school for 26 days from the date of exposure and until the outbreak has ended. Students with non-medical exemptions, who receive the recommended doses of MMR vaccine, may return to school immediately.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mumps is a viral illness that is transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets or saliva from an infected person. It is best known for painful, swollen salivary glands that show up as puffy cheeks and swollen jaw. Boys may also have painful, swollen testicles. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscles aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. There is no treatment, and symptoms usually resolve themselves within a few weeks. Mumps is usually a mild disease in children, but adults may have more serious disease with complications.
The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine is 88 percent effective in preventing mumps. It is a live virus vaccine and is not recommended for pregnant women or patients with a weakened immune system. Adults born before 1957 are generally considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to receive the MMR vaccine.
The Arkansas Department of Health will also be offering free MMR vaccinations, which cover the mumps, measles and rubella, Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Jones Center in Springdale.
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