Two cases of mumps confirmed


Mumps illustration

Shelby Helton

Two cases of mumps have been detected in residents of Fayette County within the last week, according to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. The cause of the new cases has yet to be determined.  

For the patients’ privacy, the health department did not release the ages of the patients, so it could range from infants to adults. 

Just over a year ago, three cases of mumps were confirmed and over 30 UK students were monitored for the virus.

According to the Mayo Clinic, mumps are a contagious disease caused by a virus that can be easily spread from person to person via infected saliva. Without being vaccinated, individuals can easily contract the virus from inhaling saliva droplets from the sneeze or cough of someone infected. The virus can also be spread by sharing utensils or cups with the infected person.  

Signs often do not appear in the infected person until after about two to three weeks of contracting the virus. Symptoms often seem like a case of the common cold or flu, but they are much worse. These symptoms may include swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, fever, headache, muscle aches, weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite and pain while chewing or swallowing. The most common sign or symptoms of the mumps is swollen salivary glands, which is where the term “mumps” comes from.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic advise making an appointment as soon as the lumps are noticed. The longer mumps go untreated, the higher the risk of complications like nausea, vomiting, and damaging of brain, pancreas and both female and male genitalia. 

Lexington-Fayette County Health Department Communications Officer Kevin Hall said that UK students should contact their doctor to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

“It’s important for people to make sure they have received the vaccination against the mumps,” Hall said. “The vaccine is 88 percent effective, but that still means it doesn’t work 12 percent of the time. However, in those cases, it’s far more likely that it’s a milder case of mumps affecting a person.”

Hall said another preventive measure is to avoid drinking and eating after others during an outbreak like this one.  

Hall also said that parents should not panic about the presence of mumps in themselves or their children. 

“Watch for the presence of the symptoms and swelling around the face and neck, and talk to your doctor about the vaccination,” Hall said.

The vaccination that Hall and the CDC refer to is the MMR vaccine, which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps and the rubella virus. 

According to the CDC, two doses of the vaccine are about 88 percent effective, while one dose is only about 78 percent effective. These statistics are much better than in the pre-vaccination era. Before the vaccine was developed in 1967, there were over 186,000 cases each year. The number has decreased by 99 percent since the vaccination. As of February 2017, there have only been 1,000 cases. 

Hall’s final advice is simple and easy to do. 

“Wash your hands, wash your hands and wash your hands!” 

For more information, contact your doctor, UK Health Services or call or the visit the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department at 650 Newtown Pike, Lexington KY 40502, (859) 252-2371.