News: Worrisome Outbreak of Mumps Spreads in Colorado

Worrisome Outbreak of Mumps Spreads in Colorado

Officials in Colorado are concerned as 61 cases of the mumps were reported so far this year, a significant increase in the prevalence of the contagious disease in the state.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) state that the number is more than the total cases reported in the last eight years combined, with only 17 cases reported last year and 6 in 2015.

The jump in reported cases in Colorado is certainly worrisome considering the number was placed at 42 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of March 25, 2017. However, a CDC representative told Invisiverse that the CDPHE would have the most up-to-date statistics.

The MMWR data only includes cases up until the week ending 3/25. We had 3 cases of the mumps reported after that. The rest of the discrepancy is likely due to reporting delays. We transmit our data to CDC weekly so some of those cases may have been reported after the data was already transmitted or the cases weren't assigned a case status yet to indicate they needed to be counted.

— Shannon Barbare (Communications Specialist, CDPHE)

Officials in Colorado warned that both adults and children should be vaccinated against the disease back in January, after 11 people contracted the mumps in the Denver area. The MMR vaccine protects babies against the mumps, as well as measles and rubella.

Ultrastructural details of the mumps virions that had been grown in a Vero cell culture. Image via CDC

Mumps is a highly contagious virus. It is spread via coughing, sneezing, or sharing/touching the same items as an infected person, and the CDC states that "crowded environments" are breeding ground for the virus. Vaccinated people can still contract the disease in such a setting, according to the CDC:

MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. . . . Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated US communities, particularly in close-contact settings. In recent years, outbreaks have occurred in schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks.

Symptoms are usually exhibited 16–18 days after infection, but this can range from 12–25 days. These include fever, headaches, muscle aches, tiredness, appetite loss, and parotitis (swollen salivary glands).

However, complications can also arise if the mumps is left untreated, such as like inflammation of the testicles in men, inflammation of the brain, meningitis, inflammation of the ovaries and breasts in women, or even deafness.

The news comes after multiple outbreaks in three different US colleges outside of Colorado show that the threat is rising everywhere this year.

Three students at Illinois State University were infected, while 20+ at Louisiana State University (LSU) have been diagnosed with the condition this week. There were four confirmed and three probable cases of mumps at Chapman University in California.

Statistics released by the CDC indicated that mumps cases this year have more than doubled where they were this time last year. There were 1,965 cases cases reported in 2017 as of March 25, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, versus 754 cumulative cases from the same time period last year. According to the CDC, mumps cases last year were the highest they've been since a large outbreak sickened more than 6,000 in 2006.

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Cover image by CDC

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