Mumps outbreaks have been reported across the country, and while the St. Clair County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health say they haven’t investigated any recent cases, they’re keeping tabs on what’s happening elsewhere.
“We’re always on the lookout,” said Marsha Wild, director of infectious disease prevention services at the county health department.
Wild said her department has been aware of mumps cases reported at universities outside the state, such as the University of Missouri, where 128 confirmed and probable cases have been reported.
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University health officials told the Kansas City Star that the disease spread despite proof that all the infected students had met the immunization policy requirement of two measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccines.
Mumps is an infectious viral disease that can cause swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands in the cheeks and jaw, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The county health department in its jurisdiction said approximately 91.9 percent of people ages 13 to 17 have received MMR vaccines to protect against mumps as well as measles and rubella. Wild said this age group normally has already received at least two MMR vaccines, which is typically required to enroll in school.
The remainder of people in this age group who don’t get vaccinated are often home-schooled or may have a religious conflict with receiving vaccinations, but the health department said those who aren’t vaccinated represent a much smaller part of the population compared to those who have received it.
The Illinois State Department of Public Health recommends two MMR doses for all children: One at 12 to 15 months old and another at 4 to 6 years old.
Vaccination does not guarantee that you can’t get diseases like mumps. Wild said there are plenty of variables to consider, such as if the vaccine was stored properly before it was given or how the immune system responds. But otherwise, she said, “it’s typically very effective.”
A two-dose MMR vaccine is 88 percent effective against mumps, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.