PHOENIX - Health officials say Maricopa County is experiencing a community-wide outbreak of mumps, which is a contagious disease that can lead to serious consequences.
“This is the first community-wide mumps outbreak that Maricopa County has seen in decades and serves as a reminder of why it’s so important to get vaccinated for diseases that we can prevent,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
Mumps is contagious and it's caused by a virus that spreads through saliva or mucus from an infected person. The infected person can spread the disease by kissing, sharing food, drinks, eating utensils, cigarettes, or any other items that come into contact with their saliva.
Symptoms: face swelling, tender salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle ache, tiredness and loss of appetite.
This image depicts a child with a mumps infection. Note the characteristic swollen neck region due to an enlargement of the boy’s salivary glands. (file photo) (CDC Public Health Image Library)
According to health department officials, "A person with mumps is considered contagious 1-2 days before swelling or pain starts, which means a person infected with mumps can spread it to others before they even know they have it."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most people with mumps recover within two weeks. In rare cases, the disease can cause more severe complications, including testicular atrophy; inflammation of the ovaries, pancreas, brain; meningitis, and deafness.
“Many healthcare providers have never seen a patient with mumps, so it is important for everyone to know there is an outbreak. It’s OK to ask your provider to test for mumps if you have symptoms," added Dr. Sunenshine.
If you believe you have mumps, contact your healthcare provider. Call ahead to let the doctor's office, urgent care or emergency room know that you may have mumps to avoid exposing others in the waiting room.
Officials stated, "The healthcare provider may test you for mumps by swabbing the inside of your cheek, testing your urine and blood. Ideally, testing should be done within the first 3 days of your symptoms. They will ask you to stay home from work, school or daycare and avoid other people for 5 days after the start of jaw pain or swelling to prevent spread of the disease to others."
The Maricopa County Public Health Department's ways to avoid getting mumps and other infectious diseases:
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils and other items that come in contact with your mouth or nose
- Cover coughs and sneezes (use a tissue or upper sleeve/elbow)
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
- Encourage those around you to check if they have had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine
Meanwhile, officials with the Tolleson Union High School District say there is a confirmed case of mumps reported at La Joya Community High School. Parents of students were notified in a letter issued on December 17.
Maricopa Co. Dept. of Public Health: Mumps Fact Sheet