The Iowa Department of Public Health say three more cases of mumps have been identified in northwest Iowa — two in Sioux County and one in Plymouth County. Department medical director, Patricia Quinlisk, says it’s a concern because it indicates the disease hasn’t stopped spreading.
Quinlisk says while there are only three more confirmed cases, that means there are other people who were ill but didn’t get diagnosed or go to the doctor. She says they want to remind people to get fully vaccinated against mumps. Dr. Quinlisk says the total number of confirmed mumps cases in northwest Iowa is now 11.
“If we know about 11 cases, there’s probably, oh I don’t know, 20, 30 maybe even 40 or more cases that are really occurring, and all of those people could be spreading it,” Quinlisk says.
Quinlisk says mumps is spread through the air and by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. The virus can also be spread through shared use of drinks or cups, or when someone with mumps touches an item or surface without washing their hands and someone else touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.
She says people usually get sick in about 16 to 17 days, but you can get sick as early as 12 days all the way up to 25 days. Quinlisk says getting the vaccine is the best way to avoid mumps. Quinlisk says there are still some people who get mumps even though they’ve had two doses of the vaccine, but the vaccine takes care of most people. She also says it’s important to call ahead and let your doctor know you think you may have mumps, so you don’t expose other people while you’re waiting to be seen.
Quinlisk says the last big outbreak of mumps a few years ago had some 2,000 cases, and they are hoping to avoid reaching that level this time.