Archive for Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mumps case reported in county

April 13, 2006

With reports of mumps cases in Douglas County, school and health officials in Johnson County say they're ready for an outbreak.

Johnson County director of disease containment Nancy Tausz said there is one Kansas University student with the disease from Johnson County.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there are 48 cases in Kansas in Geary, Johnson, Leavenworth, Norton, Saline and Shawnee counties. There was only one confirmed case in Johnson County as of Wednesday.

Tausz said the age of students in Kansas with the disease is similar to the Iowa outbreak earlier this year, where 300 were confirmed sick with the mumps. She said the average age of those diagnosed in Iowa was 21.

Mumps is usually characterized by a swelling in the mouth, fever and runny nose.

"They can be contagious about four days afterward and should stay away from work or school," she said.

Tausz said although most people are vaccinated with the MMR shot -- that's measles, mumps and rubella -- somehow they're still coming down with the mumps. Several years ago, she said, state regulations switched from having students vaccinated in middle school or college. The state of Kansas now requires all children entering kindergarten to have two MMR shots.

"Many of them had been vaccinated in Iowa, and that's what they're looking at," she said. "The vaccine is 70 to 90 percent effective now, but how long it stays effective is up for question."

Starside Elementary school nurse Elishua Williams said infants are usually immunized with MMR before their first birthday and again after one month.

"They cannot come to kindergarten unless they have both doses," she said.

Williams said no Starside students have yet shown any symptoms similar to the mumps.

"If children are having swollen glands that are not strep-related, they need to be seen by a doctor," she said. "I haven't had any of that, thank goodness."

Mill Valley High School nurse Chris McPherson said a few exceptions could be made for vaccinations if children had a religious reason or major allergic reactions to vaccinations. Mumps rarely cause a person to be sick for longer than a week, she said, but can cause sterility in men in a few cases.

The concern for some health officials is that a person with mumps is most contagious four days before they begin showing symptoms. McPherson said the best way to avoid mumps or any other disease is frequent hand washing. Mumps is transmitted by contact with saliva, such as sneezing.

"I say that a lot, but it's always true," she said. "Hand washing is usually the best way to keep from getting sick."

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