Mumps popping up in Louisiana - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Mumps popping up in Louisiana

WVUE/KSLA -

Louisiana health officials have confirmed at least a dozen cases of the mumps in the state.

“There has been a large outbreak of mumps cases in Arkansas; and we’re starting to see cases in Louisiana now,” Dr. Frank Welch, medical director of the state immunization program, said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mumps no longer is very common in the United States, but outbreaks continue to occur.

They most commonly happen where people have prolonged, close contact with a person who has mumps, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in the same dormitory.

The state says that the first six to nine cases were reported at LSU and that the Baton Rouge university is taking extra precautions to prevent them from spreading.

And a spokesman for Loyola University said one of the New Orleans school's students was recently diagnosed with the virus.

Dr. Brobson Lutz is very concerned that mumps is now popping up in Louisiana.

"Back in the 1960s, maybe there were a quarter million cases a year in the United States. The number of cases had gotten down to about 200 a few years ago, but now there's an increase."

The state says it was just a matter of time before it arrived here, especially when you consider the number of recent outbreaks in other parts of the country.

"In 2016, due to the outbreaks we talked about - Arkansas,Washington,Oregon, Illinois - we had more than 5,300 cases in the United States in 2016," said Dr. Frank Welch, of the Louisiana health department.

"And, so far, we're going pretty good for 2017. We've had more than a thousand cases already. It's at 1,200 and some right now, and we're only in March."

Louisiana health officials expect to see even more cases. 

"We do believe this is a little bit of the tip of an iceberg of a mumps epidemic or a problem in Louisiana," Welch said. "We're hoping it's not.

"But these cases could be just the first wave in something. We could see more cases over the next couple weeks."

Lutz says there could be a number of reasons for the resurgence.

"People are really looking at the reasons and wondering why. It may be multifactorial. Maybe the vaccine now is not as good as the vaccine was before. Maybe fewer people are getting immunized."

Doctors say it's important for parents to ensure their children are immunized because getting sick with the mumps can cause serious complications. 

"The symptoms that make mumps really recognizable are onset of fever, chills, not feeling well and big ole swollen parotid glands," said Lutz. "But they can cause sterility and other problems in older males." 

The Louisiana Health Department offers these reminders to help deter the spread of infection:

  • Do not share drinks, utensils or food.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Regularly use soap and water or cleaning wipes to clean surfaces that are touched frequently such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters, etc.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • If you have symptoms, stay home for five days after symptoms begin; avoid school, work or large group settings.

Symptoms of mumps include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides

Welch added that a person who has the mumps virus may not know they are ill because it can take several weeks after the infection until the symptoms occur.

“The infectious period is the time period during which an infected person can spread the disease to others. People are most infectious from one or two days before onset of symptoms until five days after they notice inflammation of their salivary glands,” Welch added.

“It is for this reason that we advise these safe sharing precautions, especially at a time when people gather in large groups.”

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