Mumps continue to spread in King County: Know the symptoms

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

By Hilary N. Karasz, Public Health

There have been 196 cases of mumps reported in King County since the beginning of the outbreak in late November, with the vast majority of cases in the Auburn area. The number of mumps cases across the state has risen to 469 cases in ten counties.

This week, a student at the University of Washington tested positive for mumps, the first reported case at a post-secondary school in King County. There have been no other reported cases at UW. While this case has not been linked to any specific cases in South King County, it is likely part of the larger outbreak across the county and state. Over 100 cases have been reported in seven school districts in the county.

With the rising number of cases around the state, there’s greater possibility that anyone could be exposed to the mumps while out and about in the community. That’s why it’s important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of mumps, and to take steps to reduce the risk of becoming infected. Even if you are vaccinated, you can still get mumps so all people should be diligent about symptoms and stay home if ill.

What is mumps and what are the symptoms?

Mumps is an illness caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications that may require hospitalization. Up to 30% of people with mumps infection will have no symptoms.

How is mumps spread?

A person with mumps can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It can also be spread by sharing cups, forks or other utensils, and by touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Who is at higher risk of getting mumps*?

  • Babies less than a year old 
  • Children over 1 year of age who have not received at least 1 dose of mumps vaccine (MMR) 
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or had mumps before 
  • If you are unsure of your vaccination status please contact your health care provider. 
* Note: Anyone born before 1957 probably had mumps as children and are usually considered immune.

How can you prevent mumps?
  • Get mumps vaccine (included in the MMR vaccine) if you have not already had two doses. 
  • Stay away from anyone who has mumps. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • Don’t share cups, spoons, forks, and other utensils. 

What to do if you think you have mumps
  • Call your doctor if you have the signs of mumps: fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen cheeks or jaw. 
  • Stay home and away from other people until you can see a doctor. Do not go to school or work for five days after your cheeks or jaw become swollen. This includes staying away from people in your household as much as possible so they don’t get sick. 

For more information about why vaccinated people have acquired the mumps, read the blog post by our health officer, Dr. Jeff Duchin, “Mumps Outbreaks: Why do we care and is the vaccine working?"


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