(RxWiki News) An Ohio outbreak of mumps has continued this week, with a wider geographical area now reporting cases. Health officials are working to slow the spread as the case count grows.
The outbreak began earlier in the year on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, but spread off-campus into the wider community during March.
At the latest report, a number of additional communities in central Ohio had reported cases. Health officials are stressing the importance of vaccinations to help prevent infections.
"Cough and sneeze into tissues instead of your hands."
Columbus Public Health (CPH) reported on April 14 that the case count had increased to 212 patients. Most of those who have become ill with mumps (132 patients) have been tied directly to the outbreak at The Ohio State University (OSU).
The patients include 96 OSU students, 13 staff members and 23 additional people with a tie to OSU. The other 80 patients have no direct connection to the university.
"Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes, or talks," explained the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Infected surfaces or items, including eating or drinking utensils, can also spread the virus.
Symptoms typically include fever, head and muscle aches, fatigue and swelling in the salivary glands under the ears or jaw. While mumps doesn't usually cause major illness, it can sometimes lead to serious complications.
"Among males, mumps can lead to orchitis, a testicular inflammation that causes pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting and fever. Among some women with mumps, inflammation of the ovaries or breasts can occur," explained CPH. CDC also noted that temporary or permanent deafness can occasionally be a complication of the disease.
The patients in the Ohio outbreak have ranged in age from 9 months to 70 years. According to CPH, six of the patients have required hospitalization.
While the vast majority of the cases (165) have been reported in Columbus, CPH reported that several other Ohio communities are being affected, including the cities of Delaware and Franklin, where 21 and 19 cases have been reported, respectively. Five other towns have reported one mumps case, with one additional town reporting two cases.
There is no specific treatment for the condition, but it can be prevented with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, routinely given in two doses to children in the US.
CPH recommended that any residents who have not received any doses of the MMR vaccine and residents who have received only one dose should be vaccinated to protect themselves and prevent further spread of the disease.
"To get a copy of your vaccination record, check with your healthcare provider," suggested CPH.