The Texas Department of State Health Services is advising health care providers to be on alert for mumps in their patients as the state experiences a 22-year high in mumps cases. State, regional and local health departments are currently investigating multiple outbreaks throughout the state, including one involving possible exposures on South Padre Island, a popular spring break destination for students from Texas and elsewhere in the United States. Texas has had 221 mumps cases this year, the largest total since there were 234 cases in 1994.

Texas map Image/Urban
Texas map

Mumps cases potentially linked to South Padre Island first came to light this week when another state health department contacted DSHS about a patient with mumps who had traveled to the area for spring break. DSHS alerted other states and has been notified of 13 mumps cases in people who traveled to South Padre Island between March 8 and March 22 from six states, including two cases from Texas.

Health care providers should consider mumps in patients with compatible symptoms and ask them about travel out of state, to South Padre Island from March 8 to 22 or about any possible exposure to someone with mumps.

According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,305 mumps cases have been reported in the US this year through Apr. 8.

Mumps symptoms include swollen or tender salivary glands, swollen or tender testicles, low fever, tiredness and muscle aches. People usually develop symptoms 16-18 days after being exposed to the virus, but it can be as long as 25 days. People who think they have mumps should contact their health care provider, and anyone suspected of having mumps should stay home while they’re contagious – five days after swollen glands occur.

Mumps is highly contagious and is spread through coughing and sneezing and sharing cups and utensils. The mumps vaccine is the best way to keep from getting mumps, and research shows the mumps vaccine protects 88 percent of people who are fully vaccinated. However, some vaccinated people still get sick if they’re exposed to the virus, so it’s also important for people to help stop the spread of mumps by covering coughs and sneezes, washing their hands frequently with soap and water, and not sharing food and drinks. If you don’t know your vaccination status, talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated.