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4 probable mumps cases reported in Pierce County

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In this photo illustration, vials of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (Illustration Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is investigating four probable cases of mumps in Pierce County, all associated with an outbreak in south King County.

“Public health is essential to address disease outbreaks, especially those that cross county boundaries,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “We coordinate with partner agencies to protect the health of all people in the affected area,” Turner said.

 What Is Mumps?

Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness. An infected person can spread it through face-to-face contact by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It can also spread by shared cups and eating utensils like forks and spoons.

What Are the Symptoms?

Mumps are best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, the result of swollen salivary glands. The symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of Appetite

Meningitis and encephalitis are rare complications of mumps.

How Can You Prevent Mumps?

Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Everyone should make sure they are up to date on their measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). Other ways to protect yourself:

  • Avoid contact with anyone infected with mumps.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Don’t share cups and eating utensils.

Who Is More Likely to Get Mumps?

  • Babies less than one year old.
  • Children older than one who have not received at least one dose of the MMR.
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.

Today the Health Department is reminding Pierce County school districts of steps to control a mumps outbreak. If an outbreak occurred in a school setting, the Health Department would recommend the district exclude unimmunized students from school to minimize further exposure.

Find more resources about mumps at www.tpchd.org/mumps.