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The Daily Tar Heel

Three cases of mumps reported in Orange County

In the last two months, there have been three confirmed cases of the mumps in Orange County.

This is not an outbreak or something to be concerned about, Iulia Vann, the public health services manager at the Orange County Health Department, said in an email. 

Mumps is not seen often in Orange County, Vann said. Since Jan. 1, 2010 there have only been five confirmed cases, one suspected case and two probable cases. 

“Mumps is serious, but most people recover completely in a few weeks," Vann said. "Mumps is an illness that can present with symptoms for approximately seven days.”

People with the mumps virus are most contagious two days before the onset of symptoms and five days after the symptoms have begun, Vann said. Prominent symptoms often include swollen glands under the ears, headaches, low-grade fever, malaise, anorexia and muscle pains. 

Vann said some complications of the illness can lead to inflammation of the brain and/or testicles. 

Once a case has been confirmed it is typical for there to be close surveillance in an area, said Sachiko Ozawa, a vaccine researcher at the UNC School of Pharmacy. It's also important to isolate and contain a confirmed case to prevent the disease from spreading through coughing and sneezing. 

“It is very rare to have cases of the mumps in the United States,” she said. 

Mumps is a vaccine-preventable disease, according to the Center for Disease Control.The vaccine for mumps is part of the MMR vaccine and the MMRV vaccine which most people would receive as children if they follow the nation’s National Immunization Schedule. 

“Two doses of the mumps vaccine are 88 percent  —   range from 66 percent to 95 percent  —  effective in preventing the disease. One dose is in the 78 percent range (49 percent to 91 percent) effective,” Vann said. 

When a person is infected with mumps, symptoms won’t begin to show until anywhere from 12 to 25 days after contraction, Vann said. After an individual displays symptoms they should avoid contact with other people; this includes staying home from school, work and even sleeping in a separate bedroom from family members to prevent the spread of infection. 

Ozawa said a community where the majority of people are vaccinated will help defend those who aren't vaccinated from the disease.

“The MMR vaccine is very efficacious," she said. "And it also has this benefit called herd immunity."


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