Three probable cases of mumps have been reported in Boone County, the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said Tuesday afternoon.
“To our knowledge, none are linked to any known cases outside of Boone County and central Missouri,” department director Stephanie Browning said. “We have no knowledge to show a line to an existing case.”
Susan Even, a doctor at MU Student Health Center, said the strain of mumps circulating in the Midwest is called Genotype G, which also has been spreading throughout the United Kingdom since 2004. Even said this strain is not overly alarming since the health care community is familiar with it.
“This is not an unusual strain of the virus; we’ve seen this before,” Even said.
Browning agreed. “If you look at what’s going on around the Midwest, this is just something that’s going on; it shouldn’t cause public panic in any shape or form.”
According to Missouri health officials, in the last four months there have been 43 reported cases of mumps in the state. Of these, 12 have been confirmed and 31 are probable to be mumps. In Iowa, where there is a mumps epidemic, health officials have reported over 1,100 suspected, probable and confirmed cases in the same time period.
Brian Quinn, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Health, said the cases in Missouri are mostly in the northwest part of the state, although some are being reported in the west. Browning said of Boone County cases, the three residents are aged 30 to 55.
Susan Robinson, coordinator of health services for Columbia Public Schools, said there is no evidence that mumps have found their way to schools in the city. Browning said that parents with young children should always remain up-to-date on vaccinations.
“Especially if you have children, vaccinations are our best defense,” she said. And she cautioned adults that if they questioned their own status, they should call their doctors to make sure they have had adequate vaccinations as well.
“Virus prevention is the best medicine for the mumps,” Quinn said. “We’re encouraging people to use good personal hygiene and to check their immunity status to make sure they’ve had their vaccines.”
The majority of the cases since the beginning of this year have been among 18- to 25-year-olds, many of whom had been vaccinated.
Even said she realizes the problem of an outbreak on a college campus, where close-quartered living and cafeteria-style eating can easily foster a spread of mumps, but she said, “There hasn’t been a problem on campus yet.”
Even, Quinn and state officials agree that despite receiving two vaccinations, a person can still get mumps.
“The MMR vaccine isn’t as good in preventing the spread of mumps as we once thought,” Even said. According to the state health department, the MMR vaccination is 90 percent effective after two doses and only 80 percent effective after one dose.
Health officials recommend that people get their first MMR vaccination within the first 12 to 15 months of their lives. The second dose should be received between the ages of 4 and 6. Quinn said the Health Department urges those who have not gotten a second shot to get one and those who have developed mumps to stay home as to not spread it to others.
The mumps can cause fever, headaches and swollen glands and can lead to deafness, meningitis and painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries and possibly death.