Officials with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department have confirmed two mumps cases in Fayette County. These are the first mumps cases of the year.

Mumps is a viral infection that causes painful swelling in the glands of the cheek and jaw. Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and headache, but about a third of people who have the virus don’t have symptoms. The virus is spread through direct contact with the respiratory droplets or saliva of an infected person. Serious complications from mumps are rare, but include meningitis and other problems.

Symptoms of mumps usually appear from 16 to 18 days after exposure. A person with mumps can spread the disease from two days before to five days after gland swelling begins, so people with mumps should stay at home until at least five days after the swelling starts.

Health officials say the best way to protect against mumps in by getting vaccinated.

Another vaccine preventable disease has cropped up in Lexington in recent weeks—that’s pertussis, or whooping cough.

Health officials are notifying parents at Veterans Park Elementary School and a Lexington daycare facility of a confirmed case of pertussis, or whooping cough. There are now 14 confirmed cases in Lexington, with the remaining cases all being at Clays Mill Elementary School.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages but can be most serious in infants and those with chronic diseases. The health department continues to work with Fayette County Public Schools to make parents at all schools aware of the threat of pertussis.

The health department is recommending preventive antibiotics for high-risk students who were exposed to pertussis. This includes students with a chronic illness or weakened immune system and those who live in households with the following: a family member with a chronic illness or weakened immune system, a baby or a pregnant woman.

Any school-age children with symptoms of pertussis should stay home from school and visit their health care provider for evaluation, even if they have previously been vaccinated. If found to have probable or confirmed pertussis, they should remain out of school until completion of their antibiotics. For more information about pertussis, call 859-231-9791.

The early symptoms are similar to a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and coughing. After 1-2 weeks, the cough often gets worse, changing from a dry, hacking cough to bursts of uncontrollable, sometimes violent, coughing. During a coughing episode, it might be temporarily impossible to take a breath because of the intensity and repetition of the coughs. When finally able to breathe, the person might take a sudden gasp of air, which can cause a “whooping” sound. Vomiting and exhaustion can often follow a coughing spell.

The vaccine against pertussis is routine and required for school-age kids. One dose of the booster vaccine, called Tdap, is recommended for ages 11 and above for protection. Teenagers and adults who have never received the Tdap vaccine should check with their primary care provider or call the health department at 859-288-2483 to check availability. Although the vaccine is effective, immunity tends to decrease over time, making the booster important for older children and adults.