There has been a large outbreak of mumps cases in Arkansas and we’re starting to see cases in Louisiana now. Medical Director of the state Immunization Program Dr. Frank Welch says they’ve been able to confirm at least six cases on the LSU campus.
He says mumps is relatively mild but can cause some serious complications.
“People notice cheek swelling. Typically most people recover from it, however, it can in a few cases make people sterile but it can also cause meningitis and it can kill people.”
Welch says the U.S. used to see less than 1,000 cases a year but that number has been on the rise as, there were over 5,000 cases of the mumps in 2016. He says the disease is spread through saliva, so it’s important to wash your hands, cover your mouth when coughing and avoid sharing utensils.
“And then if they have any symptoms of the mumps, mild fever, itchy eyes, tiredness, or that classic cheek swelling, stay isolated and call their doctor of the student health center.”
LDH encourages everyone to receive two doses of the mumps vaccine which is 90-percent effective and the department has sent alerts to all doctors in the state. Welch says the outbreak in Arkansas is mostly in school aged children. He says even though the majority of mumps cases in Louisiana have been at LSU, they are also taking every measure to ensure young children are aware of the disease.
“All school aged children in the state of Louisiana will be receiving information on mumps and then those three simple things: make sure you’re vaccinated, if you have symptoms of mumps stay home and practice good hygiene.”