Getting vaccinated

The CHD is urging Union County residents who have not been exposed to the mumps, have had only one vaccine dose or have not been vaccinated, and do not have a compromised immune system to get vaccinated. To get a vaccination make an appointment with your primary care physician; get vaccinated at a local pharmacy; make an appointment with CHD by calling 541-962-8800; attend the CHD Friday walk-in clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or attend the CHD MMR vaccination clinic from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 21, at the CHD Public Health Clinic, situated at 2301 Cove Ave., La Grande.

A mumps outbreak continues to hit Union County, and health officials are urging people to protect themselves and others.

The Center for Human Development reported Monday there are four confirmed mumps cases in Union County and five presumptive cases in which patients have symptoms of the disease, but lab tests have not yet confirmed it.

Andi Walsh, CHD’s community relations and emergency preparedness coordinator, said an outbreak means there are at least two cases in the county.

“The Center for Human Development Inc. Public Health Department is continuing to investigate the recent mumps outbreak in Union County and is now focusing on prevention to keep the disease from spreading further,” Walsh said.

It is not known where the outbreak originated and there have not been any new cases confirmed since Monday.

“We do not know where the first case came from, and we probably never will. Our goal right now is to stop the spread of disease and protect those who cannot get the vaccine,” Walsh said.

She said anyone who thinks they may have mumps is urged to stay home to avoid spreading the contagious disease.

Statewide, at least six other counties have been hit by mumps this year. Thirty-eight cases were reported in Oregon through April, said Jonathan Modie, lead communications officer for the Oregon Health Authority.

Twenty-one of these cases were in Marion County. Lane County had the second highest total through April with five cases, and Multnomah and Clackamas counties were next with three cases each. Crook, Washington, Deschutes and Josephine counties had a combined six cases through April.

“We have already surpassed the total we had in all of 2016. It is shaping up to be a big year for mumps, unfortunately,” Modie said.

OHA records indicate there were 21 mumps cases in Oregon in 2016. Ten cases were in Washington County, nine were in Marion County, and Multnomah and Polk counties each had one case.

Oregon had three mumps cases in 2015, one each in Jackson, Multnomah and Washington counties. The state had a single case in 2014, in Polk County, Modie said.

Union County’s mumps cases are the first it or Wallowa County has had since at least 2006, according to OHA records.

Cases of mumps nationwide have dropped by 99 percent since the introduction of the vaccine about five decades ago, but outbreaks still occur. For example, in 2006 more than 6,500 cases were reported among college students in the United States, according to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia website.

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, before the vaccine was available, about 186,000 cases were reported nationally each year, though the number was probably much higher. Since the U.S. started vaccinating for mumps in 1967, annual cases have generally remained between 200 and 2,000. This year, through May 20, confirmed cases number 3,176, with Washington, Missouri and Arkansas reporting the most cases.

People are immunized for mumps via the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine. The vaccine is 78 percent
effective for mumps when one dose is taken and 88 percent effective when two doses are taken, Modie said.

“(The vaccine) dramatically reduces the risk,” he said.

The OHA spokesman said it is especially important for people who are going to be around young infants up to 15 months old to be vaccinated. Infants are unprotected until they are old enough to be given the MMR vaccine at the age of 7.

“They are particularly vulnerable (to mumps),” Modie said.

The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect. Its side effects are limited and may include soreness at the point the shot is given, a mild rash and joint stiffness. The temporary joint stiffness occurs only in women who are teenagers and older, Modie said.