The number of mumps cases reported in Arkansas continues to grow as health officials today put the provisional total case count (suspected and lab confirmed) at 1,652.
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) says throughout this outbreak, 90% to 95% of school-aged children and 30% to 40% of adults involved in the outbreak have been fully immunized.
This has prompted health officials to look at the effectiveness of the mumps portion of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. According to state epidemiologist, Dirk Haselow, MD, PhD, the mumps strain seen in Arkansas is the most genetically distinct from the type used to make the vaccine.
Haselow said the strain of the virus making the rounds may have evolved enough to surmount the vaccine, though he added that this hasn’t yet been confirmed.
While the vaccine is not perfect, Haselow says, “We are 100 percent positive that these vaccines are still helping quite a bit.”
Arkansas officials are not the first to raise the issue as recent studies have looked at this exact problem.
As of November 29, 2016, Benton, Carroll, Clark, Faulkner, Madison, Pulaski, and Washington are the counties involved.
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.