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Four mumps cases among students in Fife Public Schools

January 12, 2017

No indication of in-school transmission

Following diagnosis, students with mumps not in school to minimize exposure risk. Unvaccinated and under vaccinated students can take steps to remain in school. For best protection and to attend school, students should be up to date on immunizations.

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received doctor’s diagnoses today that four Fife Public Schools students have the mumps. The schools are Discovery Primary, Endeavor Elementary, Columbia Junior High, and Fife High schools. One student attends each school. They can return to school once they are no longer contagious.

“Public health is essential because vaccinations protect students in the classroom and out,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Vaccinated students are healthy learners who minimize the risk of exposure to themselves and others,” Turner said.

The mumps exposure for the four students happened away from school. Mumps is highly contagious and can spread easily and quickly in a school setting because of close contact for prolonged periods.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department recommends the school district exclude unvaccinated and under vaccinated students from attending school. Exclusions for students with no or one dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine will begin:

  • Fife High School – Jan. 18 and may affect four of the school’s 763 students.
  • Columbia Junior High – Jan. 23 and may affect 7 of the school’s 588 students.
  • Discovery Primary – Jan. 23 and may affect 30 of the school’s 562 students.
  • Endeavour Elementary – Jan. 23 and may affect 19 of the school’s 592 students.

As soon as unvaccinated and under vaccinated children receive the required doses of MMR, the district will allow them to return to school.

The vaccine is the best protection against mumps and is highly effective to prevent the virus and reduce outbreaks. Parents wishing to avoid exclusion should contact their child’s healthcare provider. Free immunizations are also available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. The next time the clinic is available is Jan. 12. For a list of other dates and times and other immunization options visit www.tpchd.org/immunizations.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness. An infected person can spread it through face-to-face contact by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. Mumps can also spread when people share cups and eating utensils. Mumps is a condition that health providers must report to the local health department when a probable or diagnosed case occurs.

What are the symptoms?

Mumps causes puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, the result of swollen salivary glands. Other symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of Appetite

Up to 10% of teen boys and men can experience swelling of the testicles. Meningitis and encephalitis are rare but serious complications of mumps.

How can you prevent mumps?

Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Make sure you and your children are up to date on the MMR vaccine. Children must have two doses of the MMR vaccine to attend school. Other ways to protect yourself:

  • Avoid contact with anyone infected with mumps.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Don’t share cups and eating utensils.

Who is more likely to get mumps?

  • Babies less than one year old.
  • Children older than one who have not received at least one dose of the MMR.
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.

Recent mumps cases in the region started with an outbreak in south King County. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department identified the first Pierce County probable mumps cases Dec. 9. On Jan. 12, the Health Department was investigating seven probable and 15 confirmed cases. Find more resources about mumps at www.tpchd.org/mumps.

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