Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received confirmation today that a student in Tacoma Public Schools has mumps. The student attends Jason Lee Middle School and returned to class when no longer contagious.
“The mumps outbreak in Pierce County is spreading,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Public health is essential to control these outbreaks, limit their effects on the community, and inform the public about how to respond to disease threats,” 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. The mumps exposure at Jason Lee Middle School happened away from school.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department recommends Tacoma Public Schools exclude unvaccinated and under vaccinated students from attending school. The exclusion will begin Jan. 25 and may affect 20 of the school’s 528 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 school contacted the families of these students.
The vaccine is the best protection against mumps and is highly effective to prevent the virus and reduce outbreaks. Free immunizations are also available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. The next time the clinic is available is Jan. 25. For a list of other dates and times and other immunization options visit www.tpchd.org/immunizations.
What is mumps?
Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness. An infected person can spread it through face-to-face contact by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. Mumps can also spread when people share cups and eating utensils. Mumps is a condition that health providers must report to the local health department when a probable or diagnosed case occurs.
What are the symptoms?
Mumps is best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, the result of swollen salivary glands. Other symptoms are:
- Muscle Aches
- Loss of Appetite
Up to 10% of teen boys and men can experience swelling of the testicles. Meningitis and encephalitis are rare but serious complications of mumps.
How can you prevent mumps?
Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Everyone should make sure they are up to date on their MMR vaccine. Children must have two doses of the MMR vaccine to attend school. Other ways to protect yourself:
- Avoid contact with anyone infected with mumps.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Don’t share cups and eating utensils.
Who is more likely to get mumps?
- Babies less than one year old.
- Children older than one who have not received at least one dose of the MMR.
- Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.
Recent mumps cases in the region started with an outbreak in south King County. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department identified the first Pierce County probable mumps cases Dec. 9. On Jan. 24, the Health Department was investigating nine confirmed and 25 probable cases. Find more resources about mumps at www.tpchd.org/mumps.