Mumps outbreak grows in Spokane County

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane County is seeing a rare outbreak of mumps.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 31 probable and confirmed cases.

The Spokane Regional Health District says this outbreak is abnormal. Currently, there are 178 cases in Washington, most of them in King County.

Mumps is spread through prolonged close contact with someone sick with mumps while they're in their contagious window.

According to the CDC, in the last week of 2016, more than half of the current mumps cases in the country (63) were from Washington (35). There were 5,311 total reported cases in the country in 2016. There were 48 total cases in Washington in 2016, and seven in 2015.

People with mumps are usually contagious when their jaw and neck is swelling. That contagious window is about eight days. A person can be symptomatic up to 18 days, but the Health District says symptomatic is not the same as contagious.

The Health District explains the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is not 100 percent effective. It offers about 88 percent protection. That means both unvaccinated and vaccinated people can contract the disease.

The Health District says seventeen of the people with mumps are fully vaccinated. The Health District does not yet know the vaccination status for the others.

"88 percent coverage, that means the vast majority of our community is protected from mumps," explained Kim Papich with the Spokane Regional Health District. "If the vaccine wasn't working, we'd have thousands of cases of mumps we're dealing with so we're somewhat fortunate we're just in the dozens with our case count."

Public schools require students have vaccines up to date or have a letter of exemption signed by a medical authority. When we're in outbreak status, the Health District decides if unvaccinated students should stay home.

Because mumps is transmitted through close contact, the Health District says it's unlikely these cases have been transmitted within schools, but rather where people are in closer contact, such as homes.

Here's the call to action from the Health District: Get vaccinated. Make sure you and your children are up to date with the MMR vaccination. Reach out to your health care provider if you're unsure.

Look here for more information regarding the prevalence of mumps and other diseases.