The outbreak of mumps in Iowa continues to grow, and state epidemiologist Doctor Patricia Quinlisk says we’ve now achieved a dubious record. The largest mumps outbreak in the United States since 1988 is happening in Iowa, she says, with a total of about 220 cases across the state since the first of the year.
It started primarily in eastern Iowa, with lots of the cases in college students, but now it’s spreading to other parts of Iowa and into neighboring states. Mumps, along with tetanus and diphtheria, is one of the “childhood diseases” for which children are routinely vaccinated.
Most people have gotten their shots in Iowa, but Quinlisk says now doctors recommend two doses for mumps, and people who started school before 1992 may have gotten only one shot, or none at all. She says some people who’ve come down with mumps never got a shot but some patients had been vaccinated.
Quinlisk also says the vaccine doesn’t provide a 100-percent guarantee you won’t get sick, as in some cases “it just doesn’t take.” But if you want to improve your chances, she says you can go to your doctor and ask for the inoculation. There’s plenty of vaccine out there, she assures Iowans, since children require two doses of it and doctors have plenty in stock. As cases continue to soar, Dr. Quinlisk says the public-health focus is on college students and healthcare workers, who are most likely to be exposed to the disease.