North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Mumps confirmed in Snohomish County

 

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Local health officials recommend that if someone thinks they may be sick or have the mumps, they should contact their health provider.

Washington state is seeing a mumps outbreak this year and cases are beginning to reach Snohomish County, with nine confirmed cases and 13 probable cases of mumps.

"It's significantly higher than what we have had in the last few years," said Heather Thomas, public and government affairs manager with the Snohomish Health District.

The county had a combined three cases from the years of 2013 to 2016.

King County and Spokane County have been hit the hardest this year so far. In King County there have been 219 cases of mumps.

"We're seeing it up and down the I-5 corridor now. There have been cases in Skagit," said Thomas.

The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is the best protection against the virus, according to Thomas.

The vaccine typically requires more than one dose.

The Snohomish Health District has now recommended that districts exclude students with no doses or one dose of the vaccine from attending school until the 26th day past possible exposure.

The Marysville, Lakewood and Arlington school districts have not seen any cases yet though. Cases are currently being seen in the Stanwood and Everett school districts.

"Public health's role is to investigate and respond to health problems and we've worked closely with the school districts involved," said Thomas.

Everett and Stanwood school districts have been responsive, she said.

Both school districts have alerted families that students without two doses of the MMR vaccine are being excluded, although can return to school as soon as they get their second dose of the vaccine.

"We worked with all the school districts in December, so I think a lot of the districts have been preparing their policies and messages for an outbreak," she said.

Mumps is a viral infection typically spread through face-to-face contact, coughing, sneezing or spraying saliva while talking.

"It's very contagious and can spread rapidly," said Thomas.

Symptoms include puffy cheeks, a swollen jaw, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.

"For those that think they're sick, they should contact their health provider," said Thomas.

Symptoms usually appear 16 to 18 days after exposure, but can lay dormant until up to 25 days after exposure.

Precautionary steps include avoiding contact with those who are sick.

"The recommendations are very similar to the flu: wash your hands a lot, cover your cough and if you're sick, stay home," said Thomas.

For more information about the Snohomish Health District go to snohd.org.

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