The Hawaii Department of Health is reporting that the current outbreak is the worst in decades and those affected are not primarily young children. The very large outbreak is affecting primarily adults and adolescents in Hawaii– Adults between the ages of 20 and early 40s and adolescents 10 years old and above, health officials note.
In addition, state epidemiologist and chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division, Dr. Sarah Park said the ongoing mumps outbreak is by far the worst in several decades for Hawaii. The total number of confirmed mumps cases statewide as of Jan. 4 stands at 770, with 610 on Oahu, 108 on Hawaii Island, 49 on Kauai and 3 on Maui.
Typically, Hawaii has fewer than 10 cases a year. Dr. Park noted that in previous years, mumps cases were imported, but recently outbreak cases have been acquired locally.
Hawaii is not the only state that has experienced a mumps epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from Jan. 1 to Dec. 2, 2017, 48 states and the District of Columbia, reported mumps infections. In addition to Hawaii, Washington, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and New York each reported more than 300 cases in 2017.
“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 that we have been able to track, the common denomination has been exposure to some type of gathering, whether school, work, church, family gathering or other social event,” she said.
The MMR vaccine prevents most cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. Individuals who have been appropriately vaccinated with a routine two-dose series can still get mumps, especially if they have prolonged, close contact with someone who has the disease, but those who are vaccinated and get the mumps will likely have less severe illness than unvaccinated individuals.
“If it were not for our highly vaccinated population, we would expect to see many more cases in individuals exposed to the mumps virus, more severe illness in those who have been sick, and more complications from the disease,” Dr. Park said.
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