Colorado public health officials are expressing concern over an increase in mumps cases seen early in 2017. So far this year, 14 cases have been reported in Colorado. That nearly matches the 17 cases reported in 2016. The five-year average is 5.6 cases per year. In 2016 in the United States, there were 5,311 cases of mumps, with eight states reporting more than 100 cases.


Among the 14 cases reported locally, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Public Health and Tri-County Health Department are investigating an outbreak of mumps among 11 people in the Denver Metro area. The number of cases likely will grow, since the investigation is ongoing.

“Because of the high numbers of mumps cases across the country, it is especially important to make sure your children are vaccinated,” said Rachel Herlihy, director of the Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Both adults and children should make sure they are up to date on their mumps vaccine.”

The mumps vaccine is safe and highly effective, but does not prevent the virus once you have been exposed. Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are recommended for children, with the first dose at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Mumps vaccine immunity can decrease over time, so some people who have been vaccinated get mumps. The vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. Adults born before 1957 are generally considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to be vaccinated, but other adults should make sure they have been vaccinated.

Mumps is a viral infection that causes painful swelling in the glands of the cheek and jaw. Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and headache, but about a third of people who have the virus don’t have symptoms. The virus is spread through direct contact with the respiratory droplets or saliva of an infected person. Serious complications from mumps are rare, but include meningitis and other problems.

Symptoms of mumps usually appear from 16 to 18 days after exposure. A person with mumps can spread the disease from two days before to five days after gland swelling begins, so people with mumps should stay at home until at least five days after the swelling starts.