A mumps outbreak is hitting Union County.
The Center for Human Development announced Monday there are four confirmed cases of mumps in Union County and five presumptive cases. The presumptive cases involve people who are displaying mumps symptoms but have not yet been confirmed by lab tests, according to Andi Walsh, community relations and emergency preparedness coordinator for the CHD.
People of all ages are contracting the disease.
“It is not just a children’s disease. It is affecting the entire community,” Walsh said.
The CHD is encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“We’re asking all residents to get a mumps vaccine unless they have already received two doses of the vaccine,” Connie Carter, public health communicable disease nurse at CHD, said.
Most individuals who contract mumps will have a mild illness that lasts a week or so, but some people may have more serious outcomes.
“Those outcomes include testicular swelling, hearing loss, swelling around the brain and spinal cord or brain damage,” Carter said.
Though officials are urging county residents to get vaccinated against the virus, the vaccine might not work as well for some people, so having as many qualified individuals who are healthy enough to receive the vaccination is important.
“Having high vaccine rates in the community also protects those who can’t be vaccinated because they are too young or have a health condition that prevents it,” Carter said.
Meanwhile, officials are working on pinpointing where the disease in Union County originated, but according to Carrie Brogoitti, public health administrator with CHD, the extensive investigation will take time.
While it may never be known how mumps came to the county, public health workers want residents to know what the symptoms are and how the disease is contracted so they can protect themselves and their families.
Symptoms of mumps include puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Other indicators of the virus include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite, according to the news release. The first symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection and up to 25 days after initial contact.
“Some people may not have signs of illness. If you think that you have the mumps, stay away from others,” Carter said. “Do not show up at the emergency room or your health care provider’s office. Instead, call your provider and ask what you should do next.”
The communicable disease is spread easily through fluids from the mouth, nose or throat. It can spread two days before signs of the illness appear, and up to five days after the swelling begins.
An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, talking or sharing items such as cups or eating utensils with others and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others, according to the release.
Health officials are warning that if someone thinks they might have contracted the mumps, then they should stay away from others.
Health officials are also encouraging anyone who thinks they might be infected to not show up at an emergency room or a health care provider’s office. Health officials are urging anyone who believes they may have mumps to call their primary provider and ask for instructions, according to the release.