April 19, 2017
2 min read

Texas mumps cases, some involving spring breakers, reach 23-year high

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Texas is advising health care providers about a surge in mumps cases in the state, including some that have been linked to a popular spring break destination.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 221 mumps cases have been reported in multiple outbreaks as of April 12, the most in Texas since 1994.

The department said 13 mumps patients in six states — including two in Texas — reported traveling to South Padre Island, a resort town in the southern part of the state. However, it does not appear that mumps is currently an issue there, according to DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen.

“Spring break for most schools and universities occurs in mid-March. We have not had any cases reported among residents of the county where South Padre Island is located, so we don’t see any evidence that there is a sustained outbreak there,” Van Deusen told Infectious Disease News.

The DSHS said it was alerted about the potential link to South Padre Island by health officials in another state after a patient with mumps reported traveling there for spring break. The department urged health care providers to “consider mumps in patients with compatible symptoms and ask them about travel out of state, to South Padre Island from March 8 to 22 or about any possible exposure to someone with mumps.”

“DSHS also reminds providers they must report suspected mumps cases to their local health department within one work day,” the department said in a news release.

Mumps symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite, followed by swollen salivary glands, according to the CDC. Symptoms appear 12 to 25 days after infection but usually occur within 16 to 18 days. Patients are likely contagious before their glands begin to swell and up to 5 days after the swelling begins, the CDC says.

Texas is the latest state to report a significant mumps outbreak, joining Arkansas, Illinois, New York, Washington and others. The U.S. experienced a sharp spike in mumps cases in 2016, with 5,311 cases reported overall — the highest total in a decade.

According to the CDC, two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is about 88% effective against the mumps and one dose is around 78% effective, meaning some vaccinated people may still be susceptible to infection.

Van Deusen did not know how many of the 221 Texas patients were previously vaccinated but said at least 92% of the 192 patients in an outbreak in North Texas that dates to last year had received at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. He said 97% to 98% of schoolchildren in the state have been vaccinated. – by Gerard Gallagher

Disclosures: Van Deusen is a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.