Doctor: Even vaccinated people should be cautious of mumps

Doctor: Even vaccinated people should be cautious of mumps
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A confirmed mumps case at Jonesboro Kindergarten Center makes four Region 8 counties dealing with the disease.

The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed there are now cases in Craighead, Greene, Jackson and Randolph Counties.

Many of those cases are in students who have had the MMR vaccine.

Now, doctors are warning that even those who are vaccinated should take precautions.

Dr. Shane Speights, Dean of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, said the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine is about 88% effective.

"Which is really good, but it's not 100% effective," Speights said. "So when you get individuals who come in that maybe have the mumps or they get exposed to kids that have the mumps, there's generally a good chance that somebody may get infected. So you take 10,000 kids, you're gonna have some kids that actually come away with the disease, which is unfortunate but that's just the way vaccines work."

Speights stressed that the vaccine will protect the vast majority of those who get it.

Mumps is a respiratory virus and spreads much like the flu, so the best defense is good hygiene.

"I always make a big deal about hand washing and the reason why is because it works," Speights said. "Hand washing is the single best way to prevent the spread of disease."

Speights also said we probably haven't seen the last of the mumps this season.

"We could expect to see a few more cases even here in Region 8, that would not be surprising at all," he said. "When you start getting more than maybe five cases or so in an area, that's gonna start generating a little more concern and a little more focus on what's going on."

With the three additional cases confirmed at Oak Grove Middle School Friday, the total number of infected students in the Paragould School District is now at five.

Speights said right now the CDC, Arkansas Department of Health, and local doctors are working to keep this from spreading further.

"Right now in speaking with them there is a lot of surveillance going on, as you can imagine," Speights said. "What they would not want to see is an increase in terms of having this spread to college communities, military barracks, older individuals, older adults or things like that where you start seeing an outbreak there. That would be a lot more concerning."

The symptoms of mumps include swelling in the jaw area, fever, headache, and general aches and pains.

Speights said it's never too late to get the MMR vaccine.

"If you're really concerned, there are two things that can happen," he said. "You can just go to your healthcare physician and get an MMR, or you can get them to check a titer level on you. If you don't want to get the vaccine, you can actually have them draw blood and see if you have antibodies that would protect you from the mumps if you got infected."

The CDC is now putting recommendations out about who might need a third round of the vaccine. Those people would likely be healthcare workers who are more likely to come in contact with the virus.

There are now more than 2,595 mumps cases in the state.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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