Mumps outbreak reported among school-age children in New Castle County

NEW CASTLE, Delaware (WPVI) -- The Delaware Division of Public Health said it is investigating an outbreak of mumps in New Castle County.

There are seven confirmed cases and two probable cases, all involving school-age children, the DPH said on Wednesday.

The confirmed cases include:

-Five individuals at William Penn High School

-One individual at George Read Middle School

-One individual at St. Georges Technical High School

No additional information about the patients will be released in an effort to protect their personal health information, the DPH said.

"There's no medical recommendation to close the school at this time," said Dr. Jon Cooper, Director of Behavioral Health for Colonial School District. "We're doubling our efforts to do extensive cleaning at all of our schools, we reviewed all our protocols we've purchased extra supplies."

Delaware health officials offered the following recommendations:

DPH advises any student or any member of the household who has symptoms or develops symptoms should be kept at home. In addition, it is recommended that parents of children who may have been exposed to mumps contact their child's primary care provider. Children with suspected or confirmed mumps should stay home for five days after the onset of parotitis (gland swelling), or as directed by their primary care provider.

Mumps is an acute viral infection spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or talking, sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others, and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that a substantial increase in the number of mumps outbreaks and outbreak-associated cases have occurred in the United States since late 2015.

The symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, body aches, loss of appetite and swelling of parotid salivary gland(s) - glands on the insides of the cheeks, floor of the mouth, and under the tongue. Mumps symptoms could develop from 12 days to 25 days after exposure. As an ongoing preventive measure, it is recommended that individuals follow good hand washing practices. Parents are encouraged to review the immunization records for their children and make sure they are up to date on recommended vaccines, including the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, and to contact their child's primary care provider with any questions.

Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. However, mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. Complications can include:

-inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems

-inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)

-inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

-inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis)


The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Teens and adults who did not get the recommended MMR vaccines per the above schedule should be vaccinated so they are up to date.

It is possible for someone to get the mumps even after they have been vaccinated, however, that is not to say the mumps vaccine is ineffective. MMR vaccine is safe and effective. A person with two doses of MMR vaccine has about an 88% reduction in risk for mumps; a person with one dose has a 78% reduction in risk for mumps. In addition, disease symptoms are milder and complications are less frequent in vaccinated people. Also, high vaccination coverage helps to limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks, therefore it is still very important to be up to date on MMR vaccine.

Individuals with questions should contact their primary care provider or the Division of Public Health at 1-888-295-5156.

Mumps is a reportable disease in Delaware. Health care providers should promptly report suspected cases of mumps, and confirmed cases, to the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (OIDE) at 302-744-4990 (normal business hours) or 1-888-295-5156 (outside of normal business hours), fax to 302-223-1540, or email Providers are asked not to wait for laboratory test results to return before reporting.
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