The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is investigating an outbreak of Mumps in the Springdale area after two cases have been confirmed and several suspected cases have been identified. This is the largest cluster of mumps cases that Arkansas has experienced since 2010.

Arkansas map/ National Atlas of the United States
Arkansas map/ National Atlas of the United States

In response to the outbreak, ADH is requiring students in the same school with vaccine exemptions for the MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella) vaccine to be excluded from school for 26 days from the date of exposure and until the outbreak has ended. Students with non-medical exemptions, who receive the recommend doses of MMR vaccine, may return to school immediately. Right now, this outbreak affects schools in the Springdale School District. ADH is working with people who have potentially been exposed and contacting area clinics and hospitals to make sure they are aware that they may see cases of Mumps.

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.

“Mumps is easily spread from person to person,” said Dirk Haselow, MD, PhD, State Epidemiologist and Outbreak Response Medical Director for ADH. “We expect to see more cases in the coming weeks. We urge Arkansans to make sure that they and their loved ones are up-to-date on the MMR vaccine.”

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.