Florida

The mumps are back in Florida. Here’s how to keep them away

What is mumps and how does it spread?

Although vaccines have nearly eliminated this once common childhood disease in the U.S., mumps - painful swelling of glands - is still a concern throughout much of the undeveloped world, and has had several recent outbreaks stateside.
Up Next
Although vaccines have nearly eliminated this once common childhood disease in the U.S., mumps - painful swelling of glands - is still a concern throughout much of the undeveloped world, and has had several recent outbreaks stateside.

Measles outbreaks have gotten most of the national attention in recent months.

But mumps, another disease caused by a virus, has staged a comeback.

Florida isn’t immune to the resurgence.

According to the Florida Health Department, 54 mumps cases were reported in 15 of the state’s 67 counties in 2018. That’s not as many as the 74 cases in 2017, but considerably more than the 28 cases reported in the years from 2013 to 2016. Most of these people were not up to date on the measles-mumps-rubella shot, the Florida Health Department said.

And since the current year started, Florida has seen 33 cases, which puts us on pace to rival or surpass 2018.

Mumps typically starts with a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and a loss of appetite, and graduates to a swelling of the salivary glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials at the University of Florida in Alachua County are concerned.

“We’re at 17 cases reported among students on campus, compared with no more than one or two during a normal year,” said Steven Orlando, UF’s interim director of communications.

“We’re communicating with students via email and social media urging them to follow the usual precautions you would during flu season: wash hands and use hand sanitizer frequently, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and don’t share things like water bottles, cups and eating utensils,” he said.

The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is required at UF, as it is at most schools, but despite the CDC and health department’s stressing that “vaccination is the best way to prevent mumps,” the UF students had their shots, Orlando said.

The health department acknowledges that people can still get mumps even if they have been vaccinated but it’s not common and the symptoms are generally not as severe.

‘Mumps outbreaks occur most frequently among groups of people who have prolonged, close contact, such as sharing water bottles or cups, kissing, practicing sports together, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps,’ the CDC says.

This, of course, can describe college students. It could also describe athletes.

Recently, after a number of hockey players in California got the mumps, the Florida Panthers’ medical team went on the offensive by testing its players and staff members and giving those that needed booster shots the needle.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
Support my work with a digital subscription
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
  Comments