The Delaware General Health District is now investigating six possible cases of the mumps in Delaware County, while the number of cases of mumps continues to grow in the Columbus outbreak.
At this time, all six cases are suspect, and an outbreak in Delaware County has not been declared, nor are its numbers being counted by Columbus Public Health, which is leading the investigation of cases in the outbreak.
As of Thursday, 87 cases of mumps were reported to Columbus Public Health from Franklin, Fairfield, Hamilton, Licking and Union counties; 70 of those cases were linked to the outbreak that began at The Ohio State University.
“When you have an outbreak like ours, all of the cases, even the suspect cases are counted,” said Jose Rodriguez, CPH Director of Public Affairs and Communications. “There’s no longer any suspect. They all get moved to probable.”
Cases at OSU have occurred in men and women between the ages of 18 and 48, while the other cases have shown up in residents of Columbus and Franklin County between the ages of 4 and 50.
“Because of our proximity to Franklin County, we want our residents to take precaution and take the steps necessary to prevent the spread of mumps,” DGHD Director of Nursing Joyce Richmond said.
Mumps cases are considered suspect when symptoms of parotitis or acute salivary gland swelling is present without another apparent cause. A case may also be considered suspect if the laboratory test is suggestive of mumps without clinical information, whether or not it has a likely link to a confirmed or probable case.
Cases are considered probable if a laboratory test confirms an antibody against the mumps or if the case is linked to a probable case, confirmed case or defined group during an outbreak. A case is confirmed if it presents clinically as the mumps and laboratory tests confirm the virus.
“Mumps is a reportable disease, which means physicians are mandated to contact the health department to report a suspect case and to let us know if they are sending blood in for lab work,” said DGHD spokesperson Traci Whittaker. “We work with our local healthcare providers throughout the investigation, including receiving updated lab results as they become available.”
The Ohio Department of Health defines a mumps outbreak as three or more cases clustered in a time and place, and the cases are likely related.
Because of the growing number of cases in Franklin County and the six suspect cases in Delaware County, DGHD is urging all residents to take precautions.
“We don’t want residents to panic, but we want residents, especially those at higher risk, to get their vaccination,” Richmond said.
From 2004 to 2013, Delaware had five cases of mumps reported – the most recent of which was in 2009 – and all were classified as suspect. No confirmed or probable cases of mumps were reported between 2004 and 2013 in Delaware County, and no mumps outbreaks were recorded in Delaware County during that time.
Rodriguez said Columbus averages about one case a year. He said CPH is continuing to investigate cases in the reporting counties in central Ohio and is in contact with DGHD about its investigations.
Mumps is caused by a virus and spread in a similar manner to the flu: through droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person. Symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, swelling of salivary glands, or pain with chewing or swallowing.
Up to 15 percent of people with mumps may also experience stiff neck and headache.
Men may also experience orchitis, a testicular inflammation that causes pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting and fever. Some women may experience symptoms of inflammation of the ovaries and breasts.
Symptoms usually begin 14 to 18 days after catching the virus, but the virus can be spread to others before symptoms even occur, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Transmission is likely before the salivary glands begin to swell and within five days after the swelling starts.
DHGD said those who are highest risk – those who have never been vaccinated or those who have received only one dose of the vaccine – should get vaccinated. People born before 1957 are considered to have a natural immunity, Richmond said.
Adults born during or after 1957 often received one dose of MMR; a second MMR may be given for enhanced protection. Children should be vaccinated with MMR on or after their first birthday, followed by a second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.
A person who has previously had mumps is often considered immune.
Dr. Teresa C. Long, Columbus Public Health Commissioner, said mumps can lead to serious complications in people who are not vaccinated, especially adults. Some complications include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which is marked by nausea, vomiting and upper abdominal pain. It can also lead to swelling of the brain (encephalitis), which can lead to neurologic problems, and swelling of fluids and membranes around the spinal cord and brain (meningitis). In rare cases, mumps has causes hearing loss in one or both ears.
If symptoms do occur, residents are encouraged to contact their primary care provider. Residents can contact their primary care provider or the Delaware General Health District for vaccine availability at 740-368-1700.
DGHD also recommends prevention through frequent hand washing, covering mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, and not sharing cups or utensils. CPH recommends staying home for five days after symptoms begin.
More information about mumps is available from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/mumps.