Mumps cases on the rise in Central Texas
The number of mumps cases roses to 94 in the Dallas area this week. At the same time, the Department of State Health Services confirms numbers in Central Texas are rising too -- five in Travis County in March and April, and two cases in Hays County. Public health experts say the MMR vaccine is the key to stopping the outbreak from reaching the Austin area, but even if you got the shots, you may not be immune to the mumps.
That’s because the MMR vaccine is 88% effective, meaning about 1 in 10 people won’t develop the antibodies to fight off the diseases and won’t know it.
At Austin Public Health’s Far South Clinic, the health care workers are in the business of stopping preventable diseases. That includes mumps. “We have seen a large outbreak in the Dallas area, in Cedar, uh Cedar Hill,” said public health educator Colleen Christian. “Here in Travis County, we haven't seen anything like that. We do have a few cases of mumps reported.” Christian believes there were no cases reported in Travis County last year.
Christian says many adults may not be immune to mumps. “For it to be as effective as possible we recommend people get two doses of the vaccine,” she said. But two doses weren’t recommended until the late 1980s.
18-year-old Kyle Knight came to the Far South Clinic to get his meningitis shot, a requirement for him to matriculate at UT in the fall. He is young enough that he would have probably received two doses of the MMR as a baby. “I know it's important,” he said. “If most people get the vaccine, then pretty much everyone will be protected.”
Adults born before 1957 likely have immunity from being exposed to the mumps virus before the vaccine was made available to the public. But if you were born between the late 1950s and late 1980s, doctors can test to see if you have immunity to the mumps. “To find out if you are immune to the illnesses that the vaccines protect against, you could have a titer run which is where they draw your blood and look at the amount of antibodies that are available,” Christian said
Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, throat pain and swelling of the salivary glands between the ear and jaw. If you have those symptoms, or you've been in contact with someone connected to the outbreak in North Texas, call your doctor.