Summit County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are working together to investigate a small cluster of mumps, a contagious viral illness that can be prevented by the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
To date, six cases of mumps have been identified among people associated with or employed by Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. The number of cases may change as the investigation continues. Public health officials believe there is minimal risk to members of the public who have had interaction with the ski area, and there is currently no known spread into the larger community.
Transmission of mumps is most common in settings where people have close, prolonged contact, such as among coworkers or family members. Population-wide vaccination for mumps is likely high enough to protect against widespread transmission of the virus. Individuals may want to check their vaccine status to ensure they are protected against mumps.
“Arapahoe Basin has been fully cooperating and closely coordinating with Summit County Public Health to support affected employees and protect all staff and the public,” said Sara Lopez, nursing manager for Summit County Public Health.
Mumps is a viral infection that causes painful swelling in the glands of the cheek and jaw. Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, tiredness, loss of appetite and headache. About one-third of people who have the virus don’t have symptoms. Rare symptoms can include swollen testicles, meningitis (infection in the spinal fluid), encephalitis (infection in the brain) and loss of hearing.
Mumps is spread from person to person by contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose or throat. People with mumps can spread the illness to others from two days before symptoms start and for five days after. Most people with mumps get better within two weeks with bed rest, fluids and medications to reduce pain and/or fever.
Mumps is a different disease from measles, which is currently causing illness in several states throughout the country. Both diseases are prevented by the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective but does not prevent mumps once you have been exposed.
Two doses of the MMR 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 can 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.