Of the state’s nearly 2,300 mumps cases reported since August, Arkansas health officials say six out of 10 are from the Marshallese population from the northwest part of the state. Director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Dr Nathaniel Smith presented the data at a joint meeting with the state House and Senate’s committees on public health, welfare and labor Monday.

The high numbers of mumps cases in the Marshallese community was first reported here in a October post.


Why the high concentration of mumps in the Marshallese community?

Most children have been vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. Dr Smith notes that the Marshallese tend to live in close quarters, “oftentimes with multiple families in the same household.”

“It’s a little bit more like a college dorm in terms of intensity of exposure,” Smith said.

LISTEN: Arkansas, mumps and the MMR vaccine: A discussion with Dr Dirk Haselow

Health officials have tracked the strain to an initial outbreak at an Iowa college.

ADH reports that throughout this outbreak, 90% to 95% of school-aged children and 30% to 40% of adults involved in the outbreak have been fully immunized.

The mumps outbreak in Arkansas is the highest in the state in decades.