News: Mumps Cases Reach 23 Year High Deep in the Heart of Texas

Mumps Cases Reach 23 Year High Deep in the Heart of Texas

Texas has become only the latest state to face an unfortunate outbreak of mumps, but so far seems to be the hardest hit. On April 12, two days before the CDC's report was released, the Texas Department of State Health Services released a health advisory indicating this is the highest instance of mumps reported in 22 years.

Numbers from the CDC's April 14th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed 213 cases in Texas reported so far in 2017. Last year at this time there were only 15.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't escape the mumps. Texas forever.

Although the mumps is rarely fatal and traditionally known by the swelling and discomfort of the salivary glands, in some severe cases it can cause deafness or inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis.

The strange part of this outbreak is that it is occurring in an area with high levels of immunization. Most people are immunized with two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine as children, as the vaccine is only licensed for kids aged 1 to 12 years. However, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. William Schaffner, explained to ABC News why this outbreak can still be happening in areas with high vaccination rates:

Although people are vaccinated, after about 15 years there is some waning of immunity and if you get a strong exposure that exposure can overcome that diminished protection and you'll get a case of mumps.

The mumps vaccine is also only 88% effective, meaning that if 100% of people are vaccinated, 12% will still be vulnerable to the disease. Schaffner explains those highest at risk are often college students, due to their close living proximity. The outbreaks patterns fit this theory, such as the outbreaks that are occurring in popular spring break destinations for students like South Padre Island.

The mumps spread through sneezing, talking, sharing items, or touching surfaces with unwashed hands. So if you're scared of mumps, it seems best to not interact with people or leave your house. Good luck!

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Cover image by Fanmartin/Wikimedia Commons

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