BOISE, Idaho — A mumps outbreak that began in September at the University of Idaho in Moscow is continuing to spread, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Idaho has 21 confirmed cases of mumps as of Friday, six in the Boise area. A pair of cases in Washington state also have been linked to the University of Idaho outbreak.
Mumps can be prevented with the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, sometimes called German measles. Parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children for personal, health or religious reasons have been a complication in the recent measles outbreak that has touched at least 14 states.
“People who have never been vaccinated can have very serious complications,” Sarah Correll, a staff epidemiologist at the Central District Health Department in Boise, said last month when the number of cases was far fewer.
Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat, and can spread when a infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and through close contact, including face-to-face or sharing a home.
Health officials are urging those who are unvaccinated to get the MMR vaccine. University of Idaho students and those in close contact with them who have not had mumps or gotten the vaccine are urged to get two doses 28 days apart.
Two doses are 88% effective against getting the disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; one dose is 78% effective.
Last year, 1,151 people across the USA were reported to have contracted mumps, up from 438 in 2013, the CDC said. Before vaccinations began in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year.
A common complication in men is testicular inflammation, which can cause infertility. Other rare but serious complications include meningitis, encephalitis, inflammation of the ovaries and deafness. Symptoms appear within 25 days of infection, but the virus can be spread before the ill person has any symptoms.
Those infected should stay home from work or school for at least five days after noticing symptoms and limit close contact with other people. Mumps patients should also wash their hands frequently, avoid sharing drinks and utensils, cover coughs and sneezes and clean shared surfaces frequently.