Health officials advise second vaccine amid upsurge of mumps cases
The number of patients suffering from mumps has reached 48 on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Johnston County, prompting health officials to recommend a second mumps shot for children.
Of the 48 mumps cases in the area, 36 of the infected are school-aged children.
The highly contagious disease has also affected Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties.
The most notable symptom of the virus is facial swelling, which develops two to three weeks after the initial exposure. Other symptoms include low-grade fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches and body aches. If left untreated, it can trigger brain infection. The virus is hard to pinpoint due to its long incubation period.
The first patients were identified in Keene and Cleburne schools. Authorities traced the virus source to Arkansas, where a small outbreak was recorded a month ago. Infected students from the schools were exposed to the virus after visiting some relatives in that state.
After the virus had been identified, the schools took necessary steps to prevent a full-blown outbreak. Students who do not have mumps immunization were required to either stay at home or get the necessary booster shots.
The disease can be transmitted through saliva, nasal secretions and skin-to-skin contact. It primarily targets the salivary glands, causing it to swell.
Mumps cannot be treated. Once diagnosed, doctors would often prescribe medication to ease the symptoms. The virus weakens on its own after a couple of weeks. Patients are no longer contagious after seven days, and most start to feel more comfortable after 10 days.
People who have already contracted this virus are already immune, thereby cannot be infected a second time.
Mumps is no longer as common as it was before the 1960s in the U.S. Outbreaks have steadily declined over the years. In fact, the Johnston County has not encountered more than 20 cases since 2011.