Hawaii mumps outbreak stumps experts

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Mumps infections have risen by over 6,000 percent in Hawaii, the Department of Health said.

Statewide, Hawaii had a total of 636 cases as of Nov. 30. Previously, the state saw 10 or fewer cases per year.

Experts are having trouble explaining exactly what has caused the outbreak.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said some people were never vaccinated for mumps and other residents’ immunity shots could be waning. The state has suggested that anyone born in 1957 or later receive another mumps shot to be safe.

Park said it could also be that people are getting sick, but not sick enough to stay home and recover.

Park said it’s a common practice that she sees every flu season.

“And we’re seeing that with mumps,” Park said. “And I think that above all is what’s contributing.”

Hawaii county had just two confirmed cases from 2007-16, but is up to 72 this year. Six were diagnosed in the past week, according to the Department of Health.

Two Big Island schools — West Hawaii Explorations Academy and Keonepoko Elementary School in Pahoa — alerted families that their communities were affected, but neither said whether the sick person is a student or staff member, West Hawaii Today reported .


Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com


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