According to Colorado state health officials, a small outbreak of Parotitis (Mumps) in the Denver area was discovered in February. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a warning upon confirming four cases, and since then, two more cases have arisen.
Investigators hypothesized that the mumps outbreak began in Iowa, and a man who relocated to Denver brought the virus with him.
Upon moving to Colorado, the individual spread the infectious disease to a group of friends who reside in Denver. After the trio showed up to Denver Health Medical Center’s urgent care clinic for treatment, three of the clinical personnel reported having symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of Mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite and swollen or tender salivary glands under at least one ear.
The infectious disease can be easily spread through coughing, sneezing, talking to someone face to face or sharing things like cups or writing utensils. Mumps is most likely to spread over the period of time from before the occurrence of the swelling salivary glands to up to five days after the swelling begins.
According to Dr. James Terbush, Interim Medical Director of El Paso, County Public Health: “Denver usually sees about two to two-and-a-half cases per year. Our last case in El Paso County was in April of 2010; it’s a very rare disease here.”
The MMR vaccine recommended by the CDC is reported to have approximately 88 percent effectiveness; however, immunity often diminishes with age. Someone who has received the vaccination years ago may be presently vulnerable. For this reason, officials from Any Lab Test Now in Centennial, Colorado urge people to get a blood test to see if they have enough antibodies to fight off mumps, or if they need immunization.
Kristin Hanak, MS, RN, PNP, nursing faculty at Front Range Community College, expressed her disagreement with the notion that people should get a rather costly blood test. “I don’t think we should all panic just yet,” she said. “If you’re at high risk with a compromised immune system, yes, you probably should consider getting tested. As well as if you’re living in the area of the outbreak. However, it isn’t necessary for most people, who have more than likely had both doses of the MMR vaccination in their youth.”
Will this outbreak continue to spread to more people throughout the city of Denver, state of Colorado, and beyond the state border? For the sake of public health, Coloradans hope these mischievous pathogens meet their demise.
Written by Joshua Speer
Photo from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention