Mumps on the rise

LIHUE — There’s been an uptick in mumps cases on Kauai over the past three weeks, and health officials are asking people to immunize their children before the start of school to prevent further outbreak.

“With school starting again and children being in shared spaces, we’re likely to see more transmissions,” said Janet Berreman, Kauai’s district health officer.

She continued: “The most important thing is to make sure children are immunized with two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).”

That includes teachers, staff members and volunteers.

“The health department is encouraging people to have a second dose if they’re in the school setting,” Berreman said.

On Kauai, 13 cases have been confirmed as of the end of July, according to the state’s Department of Health. Those cases help make up the 172 confirmed cases statewide.

None of the individuals required hospitalization.

DOH recommends children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine — one when they’re at about 15 months old and then a booster shot when they’re entering school at 4 or 5 years of age.

“There’s no real need to wait that long for the second dose, though,” Berreman said. “It’s convenience. You get all your baby shots and then your boosters when you’re ready for school.”

One dose of the vaccine is 78 percent effective, according to DOH. Two doses of the vaccine increases the chances of protecting against mumps to 88 percent.

Adults born before 1957 are expected to be immune to the illness, according to DOH, but anyone born after that date should consider getting the two doses of the vaccine.

Mumps is a respiratory virus that’s transmitted in the same way as the flu, but it’s twice as contagious, Berreman said.

And like many viral illnesses, it’s most easily transmitted within the first few days when symptoms might not be as apparent. DOH recommends staying home from work when flu-like symptoms arise because you could be unintentionally infecting co-workers and other people.

“At the first inkling that you’re not feeling well, that’s the time to stay home because that’s the time you’ll be spreading it,” Berreman said.

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