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Two mumps cases in University Place School District

March 9, 2017

Students at Curtis High and Curtis Junior High schools contracted virus away from school

Mumps spreads easily in school setting. Unvaccinated and under vaccinated students can get up to date on vaccinations to remain in school. Immunization is best protection against virus.

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received confirmation of mumps cases at Curtis High and Curtis Junior High schools. Each school has one case. The students will not return to school until they are no longer contagious. Their exposure to mumps happened away from school.

“Three months after our first cases, mumps continues to infect more people in Pierce County and across the region,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Public health is essential to ensure higher immunization rates and to limit the spread of disease to more people,” Turner said.

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best protection against mumps and is highly effective to prevent the virus and reduce outbreaks. Because mumps is highly contagious among people who are in close contact for prolonged periods, it can spread easily and quickly in a school setting.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department recommends the University Place School District exclude students with no doses or one dose of MMR from attending Curtis High and Curtis Junior High schools. The exclusion for both schools begins March 20 and affects:

  • Curtis High – 35 of the school’s roughly 1,421 students.
  • Curtis Junior High – 30 of the school’s roughly 946 students.

As soon as unvaccinated and under vaccinated students receive the required doses of MMR, the district will allow them to return to school. The district has contacted the families of all affected students.

Parents can talk to their children’s health care provider to get them up to date on their immunizations. Free immunizations are also available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. 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 is best known for causing 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. Everyone should make sure they are up to date on their 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. As of March 9, the Health Department has received reports of 58 mumps cases. Get more information about mumps, including updated case counts at www.tpchd.org/mumps

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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