Maricopa County is experiencing a community-wide outbreak of mumps, a contagious disease that can lead to serious consequences.
“This is the first community-wide mumps outbreak that Maricopa County has seen in decades and serves as a reminder of why it’s so important to get vaccinated for diseases that we can prevent,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads through saliva (spit) or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person. An infected person can spread mumps to others by kissing or by sharing food, drinks, eating utensils, cigarettes, lip gloss or any other items that come in contact with an infected person’s saliva.
Symptoms of mumps can include:
- Face swelling and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face (parotitis)
- Low-grade fever
- Muscle ache
- Loss of appetite
Complications from mumps include painful and swollen testicles for males, painful and swollen ovaries (abdominal/belly pain) for females, and rarely, decreased fertility, meningitis (inflammation around the brain and spinal cord) and even deafness.
A person with mumps is considered contagious 1-2 days before swelling or pain starts, which means a person infected with mumps can spread it to others before they even know they have it.
Dr. Sunenshine added, “Many healthcare providers have never seen a patient with mumps, so it is important for everyone to know there is an outbreak. It’s OK to ask your provider to test for mumps if you have symptoms.”
If you think you have mumps:
- Contact your healthcare provider by phone if you have one and let them know that you may have mumps.
- If you do not have a health care provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room or urgent care center.
- Please call before going to a doctor’s office, urgent care, or emergency room to let them know you may have mumps so you can avoid exposing others in the waiting room.
The healthcare provider may test you for mumps by swabbing the inside of your cheek, testing your urine and blood. Ideally, testing should be done within the first 3 days of your symptoms. They will ask you to stay home from work, school or daycare and avoid other people for 5 days after the start of jaw pain or swelling to prevent spread of the disease to others. Healthcare providers are encouraged to immediately report suspect mumps to Maricopa County Department of Public Health by calling (602) 506-6767
Vaccination with the recommended 2 doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is the best way to protect yourself. Ways to avoid getting mumps and other infectious diseases include:
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils and other items that come in contact with your mouth or nose
- Cover coughs and sneezes (use a tissue or upper sleeve/elbow)
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
Encourage those around you to check if they have had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine
For more information on mumps signs and symptoms or where you may find vaccine, please visit www.WeArePublicHealth.org