Mumps outbreak in Texas highest in 22 years

IOWA PARK, TX (KAUZ) - The state of Texas is experiencing the highest incidence of mumps in 22 years, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

There have been 221 cases reported in the state.

A family physician at the Iowa Park Clinic, Doctor James Doherty, said he has not seen any in the area he serves, but he warns people need to know how to prevent the disease and spot symptoms.

Symptoms like fever, muscle aches, headache and tiredness can take two to three weeks to develop from a case of the mumps.

"It can look just like a cold," said Doctor Doherty. "I think that's what people think. Oh, well my child isn't really sick it's just a cold." 

Mumps is contagious and spreads from person to person through saliva and mucus, like when we cough and sneeze.

"It's mostly children because they share germs with each other all day every day," said Doctor Doherty.

He said it is important for parents to take the necessary precautions to keep their children healthy.

"If I had to say one thing it would be, don't send your kids to school sick," said Doctor Doherty.

On Facebook, one woman agreed, that kids should stay home when they are not feeling well.

Another said they try to keep their child's immunity up by extended breastfeeding and giving them healthy foods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports most mumps cases are occurring among people who have been vaccinated, and these outbreaks are not due to low vaccination rates.

This has some parents concerned.

"It's unusual but not unheard of," said Doctor Doherty.

He said the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine has been around a long time.

"It's a good vaccine, but it is not perfect," said Doctor Doherty.

Doctor Doherty said like some parents he is worried too, worried some who hear that those have been vaccinated are still getting it might doubt the importance of vaccinations altogether.

"People kind of expect perfection, and we don't have that," said Doctor Doherty. "There are no guarantees in medicine."

Young boys are especially at risk because they might not be able to have children if they get mumps as adults.

"One of the complications of mumps is orchitis, which is inflammation of the testicles, and it can damage the cells that make the sperm and they become sterile," said Doctor Doherty.

He said he has not seen a mumps case in his 30-year career, but with the recent outbreak, he feels that could change.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get two doses of the MMR vaccine. One dose is considered about 78-percent effective initially and two doses are about 88-percent effective.

Even if you are vaccinated doctors say you need to practice primary prevention.

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