Dallas County High School Mumps Cases Prompt Health Alert

The mumps virus
The mumps virus Wikimedia Commons
Dallas County Health and Human Services announced Thursday that three cases of mumps have been diagnosed at a Dallas County high school, bringing the county's total number of diagnoses this year to seven. In each case, the county says, the person infected has contracted the virus locally.

In light of the most recent cases, DCHHS has now released special guidelines to Dallas-area healthcare providers. All healthcare providers should be vaccinated, DCHHS says.

Four of the seven people infected had been vaccinated against mumps, according to the county. Despite this, DCHHS maintains getting the mumps vaccine is the best way to protect against the virus. “At two doses, the MMR vaccine has 88 percent effectiveness,” Christopher Perkins, the county’s medical director, said last month. “Getting vaccinated is the best option for protection in addition to washing hands frequently and cleaning/disinfecting objects or surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.”

The special guidelines adopted yesterday also advise that any patient presenting common mumps symptoms — fever, headache and swelling of the salivary glands, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of appetite — should undergo special testing. Anyone confirmed to have mumps by a doctor should stay away from school or work for five days following the first onset of symptoms, the agency says.

In the five years prior to 2016, no more than 20 Texans were diagnosed with mumps. Last year, North Texas saw more than 50 on its own, thanks in large part to a 48-case outbreak in Johnson County.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps is “no longer very common in the United States. From year to year, mumps cases can range from roughly a couple hundred to a couple thousand. ... Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year.”
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young