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SDSU Student Contracts Mumps, County Sees Spike In Disease

A health care worker prepares syringes, including a vaccine for measles, mump...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A health care worker prepares syringes, including a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), for a child's inoculations at the International Community Health Services in Seattle, Feb. 13, 2019.

There is a spike in the number of mumps cases in San Diego and a San Diego State University student was the latest person to contract the disease.

The university’s medical director sent out an announcement Thursday saying there was a confirmed case but did not provide specifics because of medical privacy law.

So far this year, there have been 63 confirmed or probable mumps cases in San Diego, compared to nine cases last year — a sevenfold increase — according to county health officials. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency issued a health advisory Nov. 25, asking residents to be on the lookout for the viral disease.

Mumps is a highly infectious disease and is spread from direct contact, said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital.

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"You shake hands with somebody who has the mumps and they've been scratching their eye or you know gut secretions from their mouth on their hands and then they touch you," he said. "It's not quite as contagious as measles which actually flies through the air ... but it's still a very contagious illness."

The CDC said mumps cases in the U.S. have been on the decline since vaccination program began in 1967. Since 2006, however, there have been several outbreaks.

“We're seeing more cases of mumps in general either isolated cases or clusters of cases," Sawyer said. "And it's largely attributable to the pockets of our population who are not getting vaccinated. It gets started in that group and then it spreads out into the general community.”

Mumps is preventable with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination.

The CDC said a person with two doses of MMR vaccine has about an 88% reduction in risk for mumps; a person with one dose has a 78% reduction in risk for mumps.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and swelling of the salivary glands. It can cause hearing loss, decreased fertility, and, in extreme cases, miscarriages.

There have been increases in mumps cases in neighboring counties as well as Baja California, according to county health officials. Los Angeles County saw an outbreak in its men’s jail. Orange County is also experiencing a spike in the number of cases. The number of cases in Baja California is the highest in nearly two decades.

There is no treatment of mumps and most will recover within a few weeks.

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