Its not a disease that you'd normally think about catching when you take a walk across a college campus, or a drink from a water fountain, but the reality is mumps is making a strong resurgence across the United States. In fact the CDC says the number of cases has hit a ten year high nationwide with a reported 3,832 cases and still rising.
Texas is one of the states that has been hit particularly hard, with a outbreak in Johnson County resulting in almost fifty cases alone over the past two weeks. Although the disease hasn’t spread to Mclennan County yet, public health officials say that doesn't mean they aren’t prepared.
“We’re working with our doctors, and our school nurses and our emergency departments because mumps is in the state of Texas and we need our health care professionals to be aware that someone may come in with symptoms because mumps is in our communities." Says Kelly Craine with the Mclennan County Public Health District.
Although the disease doesn’t have a specific treatment it is highly preventable.
“Vaccination is the best protection from the virus because there is no medication, you need the vaccine.” Says Craine.
A mumps vaccine is not only the best line of defense against the disease it also gets the job done, with the CDC reporting just one dose proving to be 78 percent effective, and two doses 88 percent effective.
Not only will the vaccine prevent you from getting the virus, the doctor’s who are the frontline of treatment say its the best way to eradicate it entirely.
“People who are immunized and have effective immunization they’re not going to get it, and once the susceptible population gets immunized there will be no one left to get it." Says Dr. Buddy Creech who is the director of a vaccination research program.
The problem here in Texas is that more people are are choosing not to immunize. The number of students K-12 who are opting out with non medical exemptions is 19 times the amount it was back in 2003. Three of the leading counties in that category, Travis, Hays and Williamson are right here in Central Texas.
Luckily, Mclennan County hasn’t seen a case of the mumps for the past five years, a statistic that health officials say they are hoping to maintain.