KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Health officials in Knox County are reminding residents to stay up to date on the mumps vaccine as the Centers for Disease Control says a nationwide spike is expected to continue into next month.
According to the CDC, the number of mumps cases hit a 10-year high late last month with 5,311 cases reported in Washington, D.C. and 46 states. Cases can range from roughly a couple hundred to a couple thousand each year, according to the CDC. It was once a common childhood illness, but is now a rare one.
“It’s still what we would call a rare illness, but in different populations that are not totally vaccinated, there may be cases that pop up here and there,” said Connie Conley with the Knox County Health Department.
While there are no reported cases in Tennessee, the bordering state of Arkansas is in the midst of an outbreak with more than 2,500 cases last week. According to the CDC’s website, there’s been a steady increase in cases in the United States since 2012 when there were less than a thousand cases reported, compared to 2016 when there were more than 5,000.Related:Measles making comeback in Texas as parents opt out of vaccines
Some mumps symptoms can include a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and can be mistaken for other common illnesses like the flu. One way to help prevent the spread of mumps if you’ve come in contact with anyone who has it, or you just want to stay healthy, according to the CDC, is to wash your hands as frequently as possible.
Conley says getting the MMR vaccine is your best line of defense.
“When we see cases pop up, typically those are children that have not been vaccinated or under-vaccinated as we would say,” said Conley. “The measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, it’s your best protection against not getting that.”
Conley recommends keeping your vaccines up to date if you are going to travel.
“Because you know we are a very global society, a very global country. People who travel are coming from all parts of the world so the risk of being exposed to something is there.”
The CDC says the MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all cases of the mumps and related complications. People who have received two doses of the MMR vaccine are about nine times less likely to get mumps than unvaccinated people who have the same exposure to the virus.