The mumps outbreak in Dallas County has risen to 59 cases in 2017, up 14 cases in a week, according to the latest numbers from the Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) Tuesday. DCHHS has identified 45 mumps cases (76 percent) between students and teachers in Cedar Hill High School.

Image/James Gathany
Image/James Gathany

The remaining cases have been reported in Mesquite, Dallas and DeSoto.

The mumps virus is found in saliva and respiratory droplets. It is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and coming into contact with a person’s saliva by sharing drinks or utensils, food or water bottles, or by kissing. A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in a dormitory with a person who has the mumps.

Symptoms include swelling and pain in one or more salivary glands (sides of the cheeks and jaw), fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and loss of appetite. These symptoms can last up to 10 days.

Complications from mumps infection can include encephalitis (infection in the brain), meningitis (infection in the lining of the brain), painful swelling of the testicles or the ovaries, pancreatitis and hearing loss. Pregnant women who become infected with mumps during the first three months of pregnancy are at risk of miscarriage.

DCHHS health officials are urging immunization to protect against and prevent the spread of mumps. People who have had two mumps vaccinations (such as two MMR vaccines) are usually considered immune from mumps.

A third dose of the MMR vaccine is only recommended by the CDC when an individual is associated with an ongoing outbreak.

“At two doses, the MMR vaccine is very impactful at 88% effectiveness,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, Dallas County medical director/health authority. “A third dose is recommended if you have been associated with an outbreak. Ensuring you are up to date with your vaccination is the best protection in addition to washing hands frequently and cleaning/disinfecting objects or surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.”