Paragould School District responds after confirmed mumps case

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Jan. 18 UPDATE: Superintendent Debbie Smith said the two students who contracted the mumps are back in school but now the Greene County Health Department is reaching out to the students who were in close contact with them.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, having local health departments reach out to students and teachers who have been around those affected is proper protocol. This includes during extra-curricular activities or in the classrooms.

Now, school officials and nurses are making sure parents and students are aware of the symptoms of the mumps as well as knowing what it means to be up to date on their MMR vaccine.

Region 8 News has confirmed there are now two cases of confirmed mumps in the Paragould School District.

According to Debbie Smith with the Paragould School District, a 6th grader at Oak Grove Middle School, and a 9th grader at Paragould High School showed symptoms of the mumps earlier this week, and it was confirmed Friday afternoon.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, a letter was sent home to parents Friday afternoon with information regarding the virus.

"Our number one goal is to try to make sure the rest of our students stay very healthy," said Smith. "The best way to do that is to communicate and let people know that we are dealing with it."

Smith said their school nurses are knowledgeable of which students are vaccinated for the virus and which are not, but she wants the parents of those who cannot receive the MMR vaccine to be mindful.

"Those children's parents just need to be very aware and make sure they know that we have had cases of mumps so that they can watch out for their kids as far as symptoms," said Smith.

This news comes after recent mumps outbreaks in both northwestern and central parts of Arkansas.

There are currently 30 workplaces, 29 schools in 8 school districts, and 2 private schools that are being impacted as of Thursday, Jan. 12.

The ADH said there is a total of 2,524 cases under investigation, which include individuals who have displayed symptoms related to mumps or have received lab confirmation that they are positive for the virus.

The ADH has an updated website on what to do if you come in contact with someone with the mumps.

Smith said that the custodial staff will be more aggressive in sanitizing the school to help prevent any more outbreaks.

She also said according to ADH guidelines, a student can return back to school five days after swelling is found in the glands of their jaws or ears.

Because the two students have been out of school past five days, they will be able to return as soon as possible.

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

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