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2 cases of mumps confirmed in University Place School District, one case at Tacoma Community College

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UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Health officials have confirmed a case of mumps at both Curtis High and Curtis Junior High Schools in University Place and another case at Tacoma Community College.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department officials say the students were exposed to mumps away from school, and they will not return until they are no longer contagious.

“Three months after our first cases, mumps continues to infect more people in Pierce County and across the region,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Public health is essential to ensure higher immunization rates and to limit the spread of disease to more people,” Turner said.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus spread from person to person through saliva and mucus.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department recommends the University Place School District exclude students with no doses or one dose of MMR from attending Curtis High and Curtis Junior High schools. The exclusion for both schools begins March 20 and affects:

  • Curtis High – 35 of the school’s roughly 1,421 students.
  • Curtis Junior High – 30 of the school’s roughly 946 students.

A county-by-county survey of Washington state found 412 confirmed and probable cases of mumps between October and early February.

Officials urge people to get vaccinated and to take precautions to stop the spread.

The CDC recommends that children get two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, though it is not 100% effective. The CDC is working closely with the state department of health, according to Patel.

If you suspect someone of having mumps, you should avoid kissing, hugging and other close contact. Anyone feeling sick should contact their health care provider, local health departments or the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588, Washington health authorities said.

Mumps typically begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite lasting a few days. Most people will then see salivary glands swell, causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. It can take 12 to 25 days to become ill after exposure to the virus. Once symptoms begin they can last from two to 10 days.

Mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. These include hearing loss and inflammation of the brain, ovaries, breast tissue or testicles. Occasionally, mumps can cause encephalitis, which in rare cases can lead to death, says the CDC.

Because it is caused by a virus, mumps will not respond to antibiotics. Doctors generally recommend bed rest and over-the-counter pain relievers.