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155 confirmed cases: Oklahoma still feeling the effects of mumps outbreak

PAYNE COUNTY, Okla. – After dealing with a major outbreak last year, health officials are still warning the public about taking precautions involving a contagious disease.

Last December, the Oklahoma State Department of Health was dealing with an outbreak of the mumps that affected more than 320 patients across the state.

Most of those cases centered around Garfield County, but the disease was still contracted in other parts of the state.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health and local county health departments continue to investigate and provide a public health response to mumps reports. Outbreak transmission ended approximately June 30, 2017; however, small clusters among groups and institutional settings as well as sporadic cases with no linkage to other known cases continues to be identified,” a statement from the department read.

So far this year, 155 patients across the state have been diagnosed with mumps.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says most of those cases were in Garfield, McCurtain, Oklahoma and Tulsa  counties.

The health department’s break down of cases is as follows:

  • Canadian County- 1
  • Cherokee County – 1
  • Choctaw County – 1
  • Cleveland County – 5
  • Creek County – 1
  • Garfield County – 38
  • Kay County – 5
  • Kiowa County – 1
  • Logan County – 3
  • Love County – 1
  • Major County – 1
  • McCurtain County – 63
  • Muskogee County – 1
  • Noble County – 1
  • Oklahoma County – 13
  • Osage County – 3
  • Rogers County – 2
  • Tulsa County – 12
  • Wagoner – 2.

However, officials in Payne County say a patient recently tested positive for the disease. Although there was only one confirmed case, Stillwater Medical Center CEO Denise Webber told the Stillwater News Press that a patient had presented signs of the mumps at the center’s pediatric clinic.

So far, the Oklahoma State Department of Health says that only three patients had to be hospitalized because of the disease. The patients range in age from 5-months-old to 76-years-old, and many had received the MMR vaccine.

In fact, 73 of the 155 patients were vaccinated, while only 5 had no vaccination history.

Health officials say one patient was too young to receive the vaccine, while 76 patients had ‘unknown vaccination history.’

Despite those numbers, experts say it is still important to get the vaccine.

“It’s our hope that with the vaccine at least the symptoms would be lessened some as they build immunity, and that they would be protected to the best of their abilities,” Carla Dionne, with the Garfield County Health Department, told KFOR during the 2016 outbreak.

Officials say those vaccinated for the mumps may not suffer with the symptoms as long, and could reduce the risk of exposure to others.

Mumps is a virus that is spread by coughing, sneezing and direct contact with saliva, like eating or drinking after an infected person.

Symptoms include swelling on one or both sides of the face, tenderness of the salivary glands in the cheek and jaw area, slight fever, headache, general aches and muscle pain.

Those symptoms usually appear 16 to 18 days after the infection, and individuals can begin spreading the virus two days before showing symptoms.

Experts say patients will usually recover on their own, but some cases can lead to serious complications.

Officials say if you think you have the mumps, their recommendations are similar to that of the flu: cover sneezes and coughs, and don’t share food or drinks.

“Stay home, you’re sick. Stay home, particularly if they’re not feeling well and there’s swelling in the jaw line. If there is, they should call their physician or call the health department, but stay home!” says Dionne.