Confirmed mumps cases persist statewide

The tally of confirmed mumps cases in the state has continued to increase in recent months.

From March 1, 2017, to May 10, the Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed 978 cases of mumps in the state, including 134 in Hawaii County. That’s up from 902 statewide and 131 in Hawaii County just two months ago.

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As of May 10, there also were 792 cases reported in Honolulu County, 49 in Kauai County and three in Maui County.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said the outbreak has slowed quite a bit since it began, and while health officials hope it’ll wind down sooner rather than later, it “doesn’t seem like it’s ready to do that.”

“It has slowed, but it just hasn’t slowed enough for our liking, which means stopped,” she said.

The DOH is still seeing new cases regularly, but Park said a couple of new cases every day or every other day is different from 20 new cases every day.

Activity seems to be focused largely on Oahu, she said “which make sense. This is a virus that really gravitates toward denser populations.”

Mumps is spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person.

Mumps is caused by a virus and is usually mild in children, but occasionally can cause complications, especially in adults, including meningitis, deafness or swelling of the brain, testicles or ovaries, according to information provided the DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division website.

According to the DOH, there have been 30 reports of complications due to mumps.

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

Some people have mild or no symptoms while others might feel sick but not have swollen glands.

Most people recover completely within a few weeks.

According to the DOH, the best way to prevent mumps is to get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

An outbreak MMR dose is available and while anyone can get it, Park said they’re focusing on individuals older than 10 and up to 45 who live, work and socialize in crowded environments.

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For more information, visit health.hawaii.gov/docd/advisories/mumps.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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