Mumps outbreak in Lakewood, N.J.

LAKEWOOD, N.J. - October 23, 2009 There are usually only about 265 cases a year nationally of the highly contagious disease. It is usually spread by coughing, sneezing and direct contact. The Lakewood cases are believed to be linked to a recent mumps outbreak in New York among children who attended an upstate summer camp.

"I am concerned. I have an 8-year-old daughter and I know that mumps is not a joke," said Shephard Douglas of Lakewood.

Most of the cases here have been found in private school students between the ages of 17 and 20, and most of whom had received the mumps vaccine. The two doses, administered at around a year old and just before kindergarten, are about 90% effective.

"So, there's still a 10% possibility for fully vaccinated individuals to be exposed and thereby infected," said Ocean County Epidemiologist Patty High.

RELATED LINK: Information about the mumps vaccine from the CDC.

The sypmtoms of mumps include fever, headache, loss of appetite and the telltale swelling of the cheeks and salivary glands.

Officials urge anyone who sees those symptoms to go to a doctor right away.

"They need to be excluded from work, they need to be excluded from school or any type of social situationn," said Ocean County Spokeswoman Leslie Terjesen.

The state is working with Ocean County to track the mumps outbreak. Investigators are now questioning those who became ill to determine where theyve been recently and with whom they came in contact.

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