Washington is currently experiencing an outbreak of the mumps disease. While the largest concentration of cases are in King County (mainly in the Auburn area), there are also cases in Pierce, Spokane, and Yakima counties, and the outbreak could spread further. The number of cases reported in the current outbreak is higher than the total number of cases reported in any single year in Washington over a decade. For the most up-to-date case count, please visit www.doh.wa.gov/mumps.
The Washington Department of Health is coordinating a statewide response to the outbreak, working closely with local health jurisdictions. The department’s goal is to prevent the outbreak from spreading further. The DoH is assisting local health jurisdictions in mumps diagnostic testing as requested to better understand the scope of the outbreak, assuring health care providers have the information they need to quickly recognize and test a potential mumps case and provide their patients with necessary public health information. The DoH is encouraging immunization, and is providing information and resources as needed.
Everyone can help stop this disease from spreading. It is more important than ever that children in our schools are up to date on the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Also, we strongly encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of mumps. If you suspect your child has mumps, call your local health jurisdiction and take your child to a healthcare provider right away. In the event of a mumps case in your facility, work with your local health department to exclude children who are not up to date on their MMR vaccine or have an exemption to MMR vaccine on file.
- Mumps is a contagious disease caused by the mumps virus. It is mostly spread by contact with saliva from someone who is infected.
- Those infected with mumps usually are contagious before for 2 days before symptoms appear and for 5 days after, so those who are infected can spread it without realizing it. There is no treatment for mumps, but there is prevention in the form of a vaccine.
- The most distinctive sign of mumps is swelling of salivary glands in one or both cheeks that starts in front of the ear and can spread down to the neck or jaw (parotitis), though not everyone who is infected gets this.
- Mumps symptoms can also include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite.
- Potential complications of mumps include hearing loss, meningitis (swelling of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), and changes in mental function if the brain if affected.
- Symptoms generally last about a week.
- The best protection against mumps is the combination MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella viruses.
- MMR vaccine is recommended for children aged 12 to 15 months, with a second dose at 4 to 6 years.
Guidance and Recommendations:
- Because mumps spreads easily in group settings such as schools, preschools, and child care, it’s important for us to ensure that children and staff are up to date on required doses of MMR vaccine.
- MMR vaccination is required for school, preschool, and child care entry in Washington.
- 2 doses of MMR vaccine are required for kindergarten – 12th grade.
- 1 dose of MMR is required for child care or preschool by 16 months of age.
- We will encourage staff to know their MMR vaccination status or get a blood test to check for immunity.
In the event we should experience an outbreak, we will adhere to Washington State law (WAC 246-110-020). Section 2 of that WAC reads:
When there is an outbreak of a contagious disease, as defined in WAC 246-110-010, and there is the potential for a case or cases within a school or childcare center, the local health officer, after consultation with the secretary of health or designee if appropriate, shall take all appropriate actions deemed to be necessary to control or eliminate the spread of the disease within their local health jurisdiction including, but not limited to:
(a) Closing part or all of the affected school(s) or childcare center(s);
(b) Closing other schools or childcare centers;
(c) Canceling activities or functions at schools or childcare centers;
(d) Excluding from schools or childcare centers any students, staff, and volunteers who are infectious, or exposed and susceptible to the disease.