Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has determined a student at Northwood Elementary School in the Puyallup School District has the mumps. The female student will not return to class until she is no longer contagious.


On Jan. 5, district administrators learned of a possible mumps case at the school. They contacted the Health Department, which later confirmed the female student had mumps.

“In recent weeks, the Health Department has worked proactively to inform schools countywide about possible increase in mumps cases,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Public health is essential to keep the public informed about emerging disease threats and to control disease outbreaks,” Turner said.

Because mumps is highly contagious among people who are in close contact for prolonged periods, it can spread easily and quickly in a school setting.

Following Washington State Department of Health protocol and to prevent further exposure, the district has decided in consultation with the Health Department to exclude unvaccinated and under vaccinated students from attending Northwood. The exclusion will begin Jan. 16 and may affect 13 of the school’s 386 students who have received one or no doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. As soon as unvaccinated and under vaccinated children receive the required doses of the vaccine, the district will allow them to return to school.

The vaccine is the best protection against mumps and is highly effective to prevent the virus and reduce outbreaks. Parents wishing to avoid exclusion should contact their child’s healthcare provider. Free immunizations are also available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. The next time the clinic is available is Jan. 10.

Statewide, Washington health officials have reported 147 confirmed and probable cases as of Thursday. In Pierce County, 15 cases (five confirmed) have been reported. 60 percent of cases are up-to-date on their MMR vaccine.