The mumps outbreak in northwest Arkansas has eclipsed the 400 case mark as the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) puts the suspected and lab confirmed case tally at 427 as of Friday.


According to an Epi-X report excerpt published on ProMED-Mail, the majority of cases are Marshallese (66 percent) and are believed to have common exposures within a local church and in school settings.

The index case appears to be an unvaccinated 27-year-old woman with no international travel but who was visited by an individual who traveled from an area in Iowa where mumps was spreading at that time. As of Fri 7 Oct 2016, we are aware of 427 cases (196 laboratory confirmed via PCR) and 231 Epi-linked cases or clinically diagnosed). At least 25 additional suspects have pending laboratory testing at the state public health laboratory. The majority of cases are in Marshallese and are believed to have common exposures within a local church. Transmission has spread from that site to 37 schools in 4 different school districts, 17 businesses or work places, and 30 churches. The majority of cases are 5-17 years old (66%) with an age range of 7 months-82 years. Language barriers are a major issue in conducting investigations, as the majority of cases are Marshallese or Spanish speaking, and interpreters are needed to conduct effective interviews.

Vaccination clinics are ongoing. To date, approximately 2030 doses of MMR have been given at 17 vaccination clinics, and more clinics are scheduled in the coming weeks. As of Oct. 7, about 90% of cases in children are up-to-date on vaccine. In contrast, 35 per cent of adult cases are up-to-date.

The 2nd-largest U.S. continental population of Marshallese is concentrated in Springdale (Washington and Benton Counties).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mumps is a viral illness that is transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets or saliva from an infected person. It is best known for painful, swollen salivary glands that show up as puffy cheeks and swollen jaw. Boys may also have painful, swollen testicles. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscles aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. There is no treatment, and symptoms usually resolve themselves within a few weeks. Mumps is usually a mild disease in children, but adults may have more serious disease with complications.

The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine is 88 percent effective in preventing mumps. It is a live virus vaccine and is not recommended for pregnant women or patients with a weakened immune system. Adults born before 1957 are generally considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to receive the MMR vaccine.