Hawaii mumps cases reach 685; health officials broaden recommendation

The Hawaii Department of Health is asking all residents to get an “outbreak vaccination” against the ongoing flareup of mumps cases statewide.

During the mumps outbreak, in addition to routine vaccinations, anyone 10-19 years old and adults born in 1957 or later “should receive an additional MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine dose now,” the DOH advised Thursday.

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State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said the state verified that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals have gotten mumps, which is why the recommendation to get an extra “outbreak dose” is being made — “to better arm the public against the ongoing mumps outbreak.”

As of Thursday, 685 cases have been confirmed statewide in 2017, including 549 in the City and County of Honolulu, 84 in Hawaii County, 49 in Kauai County and three in Maui County.

The “outbreak dose” of MMR is recommended regardless of whether a person was previously vaccinated or has documentation showing immunity to mumps. The cost, typically covered by insurance, can be about $100-$200 if paid for out of pocket. If you don’t have insurance, the state recommends calling 211 to reach the Aloha United Way referral service.

Park said she “strongly recommends getting the outbreak MMR (vaccination) now, especially those whose family members, friends or peers have contracted mumps.”

MMR shots are available at physician offices, clinics and pharmacies islandwide that offer vaccinations.

The DOH confirmed adequate vaccine supplies are available to handle increased demand, which already grew before the state began recommending “outbreak doses.”

Mumps cases have been confirmed at Hawaii Island schools during the outbreak, including at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School, Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School in Hilo and Naalehu Elementary School.

“In addition to vaccination, DOH is advising those who are sick to stay at home and to avoid sharing food, drink or other items with others since the virus is spread via exposure to saliva from infected persons,” Park said.

After getting diagnosed with mumps, people are asked to “self-isolate and avoid going out and exposing others for nine days after onset of parotitis (swollen salivary glands).” Unvaccinated people exposed to someone with mumps “should not attend school, work or travel from day 12 through day 25 after exposure.”

Mumps is highly contagious and can occur without noticeable symptoms or causing only minor symptoms.

Prior to the MMR vaccine becoming available in 1957, mumps circulated widely so most people born that year or before are presumed immune because of prior exposure.

Most people completely recover from mumps within a few weeks. But serious complications can include brain swelling, temporary or permanent deafness and swelling of the breasts, ovaries or testicles.

State data show there have been 19 cases of complications from mumps in Hawaii so far this year, including deafness and testicular swelling. Sixty percent of cases have been adults.

Common symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, appetite loss and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one side or both sides.

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Health providers are being asked to report suspected mumps to the DOH’s disease reporting line at 586-4586.

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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