The director of the Iowa Department of Public Health says the mumps outbreak in Iowa has hit 605 cases. She says a majority of the cases have hit college-age kids. State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says it appears few people have gotten seriously ill from mumps. Quinlisk says the data is coming in daily, but she says there have been a handful of people hospitalized, and they’re still investigating one case of encephalitis.
The first two cases were confirmed in early January and the first week of April saw 160 cases reported — the most in one week thus far. Doctor Quinlisk says one of the problems is there hasn’t been a large outbreak in the U.S. since 1987, and that was prior to the change that gives kids two doses of the mumps vaccines. She says mumps used to be seasonal, hitting in the winter and spring, but she says they don’t know if that’s the case with this outbreak.
Quinlisk says she’s not sure if the outbreak has hit its peak yet. She says they’re not seeing any indication of the cases slowing down, but she says the incubation period is one to two weeks, so it will take a while for the data to show the cases are slowing.
Quinlisk says they won’t be able to nail down the source of the mumps cases until after the outbreak is over. She says they do know the mumps in Iowa have a link to an outbreak overseas. Quinlisk says they sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and genetic testing has found that the mumps are a “G” strain, which is exactly the same strain that’s part of the outbreak in the United Kingdom.
Quinlisk says there’s no real good reason why Iowa is seeing the mumps outbreak. She says, “I would guess that just somehow we were unfortunate enough to, to be the place where the mumps virus was introduced in such a way that it could cause and outbreak. ” Quinlisk says there have been other places where the mumps was introduced from the U.K., but that did not lead to an outbreak like Iowa’s.
Quinlisk says you should be on the lookout for mumps symptoms. She says symptoms include: fever, headache and swollen salivary glands in front of the ear or underneath the jaw. You can also just have pain underneath the jaw. She says if you have the mumps you should stay home from school or work.
Quinlisk says you risk infecting others if you don’t stay home. Quinlisk says. “This disease is primarily spread by coughing and sneezing on other people, and can be stopped by people covering their mouth or nose with either a handkerchief, a tissue, or by coughing or sneezing into their elbow, not into their hands. Also handwashing will help, because these viruses can be spread by things like shaking hands.” Quinlisk says, “Anybody who is sick must stay home from work, school or any other public place.”
Mumps cases have been reported in 58 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Dubuque County has the most mumps cases at 187, while Black Hawk and Johnson each have 77 cases. To see a full report on the mumps outbreak, surf to the Health Department’s website.
Related web sites:
Department of Public Health website