Mumps cases surge in L.A.

The out­break is con­cen­trated on the West­side. Some who were in­fected had been vac­ci­nated.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Soumya Kar­la­mangla soumya.kar­la­mangla@la­times.com Twit­ter: @skar­la­mangla

The out­break is con­cen­trated on the West­side. Some who were in­fected had been vac­ci­nated.

A mumps out­break in Los An­ge­les County this year has in­fected 42 peo­ple, most of whom live on the West­side, health of­fi­cials said last week.

There have been sev­eral mumps out­breaks na­tion­wide in re­cent years, in­clud­ing some that are on­go­ing in parts of Texas, Arkansas and Wash­ing­ton state. Last year there were 5,833 cases of mumps na­tion­wide, the high­est num­ber in a decade, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

As of May, there had been 3,176 cases na­tion­wide this year, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Most peo­ple who con­tract mumps have no symp­toms, or have flu-like symp­toms along with swelling of their sali­vary glands, which is char­ac­ter­is­tic of the dis­ease. But in rare cases, mumps can cause deaf­ness or brain swelling that can be life-threat­en­ing.

Dr. Franklin Pratt, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the im­mu­niza­tion pro­gram at the county’s De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, said that some of those in­fected in the out­break had been vac­ci­nated. Many out­breaks in other parts of the coun­try, which of­ten hit col­lege cam­puses es­pe­cially hard, also have in­cluded peo­ple who’d been in­oc­u­lated against the virus.

Chil­dren get the first dose of the MMR vac­cine — which pro­tects against mumps, measles and rubella — be­tween 12 and 15 months of age and the sec­ond dose be­tween ages 4 and 6. The in­tro­duc­tion of the vac­cine in 1967 has re­duced mumps cases by more than 99%, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral health of­fi­cials.

Pub­lic health of­fi­cials are un­sure what has caused the re­cent out­breaks. The­o­ries in­clude that the vac­ci­na­tion’s im­mu­nity wanes over time or that the cur­rent cir­cu­lat­ing strains of mumps are par­tic­u­larly strong, Pratt said.

“Across the coun­try, we’re see­ing mumps kind of get strength again,” Pratt said, adding that L.A. County typ­i­cally sees about 13 cases per year.

“This is clearly a blip,” he said.

Most of the lo­cal cases have been among gay or bi­sex­ual men, al­though some women have been in­fected as well, Pratt said.

Pub­lic health work­ers have de­ter­mined that most trans­mis­sions oc­curred at bars, the­aters and night­clubs. Those in­fected of­ten seem to share a so­cial net­work, he said.

The L.A. County out­break, Pratt said, isn’t re­lated to one at Chap­man Univer­sity in Orange dur­ing the spring in which more than a dozen peo­ple were in­fected.

Mumps can be trans­mit­ted through kiss­ing, shar­ing drinks and uten­sils, or touch­ing sur­faces that have also been touched by some­one who’s in­fected with the virus.

Pratt ad­vised that peo­ple re­mem­ber to wash their hands and avoid shar­ing drinks. If some­one is sick, he or she should avoid con­tact with other peo­ple as much as pos­si­ble. And if the symp­toms line up with mumps, peo­ple should see a doc­tor im­me­di­ately.

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