A Federal Way resident is one of 44 King County residents diagnosed with the mumps this year so far.
Of the 44 cases, seven people are confirmed as having the mumps, with 37 being probable, according to a Public Health —Seattle &King County Public Health Insider blog.
Unlike the majority of the people diagnosed, 60 percent of whom are children age 17 and younger, James Apa, communications director for Public Health — Seattle and King County, said the Federal Way resident is in his or her 40s. According to the Public Health Insider blog, 60 percent of the mumps cases make up children age 17 and younger, with 59 percent up-to-date on their measles, mumps, rubella vaccination. Of the 43 other cases in King County, 39 are in Auburn, three in Kent and one in Pacific, according to the Public Health Insider blog.
This year marks a spike in mumps cases in the county. Apa said the county may see a few cases every year, but jumps have happened in the past. He said in 2006, 33 cases of mumps were diagnosed, with 27 in 2007.
Apa said county health officials are working to find out why this year is different than others.
“Other states in the country are seeing an increase in cases of mumps, so it appears to be a year for mumps outbreaks, but I can’t say we have a good reason why at this point,” Apa said.
Because measles, mumps, rubella vaccinations are common, Apa said people not receiving vaccinations or having their children vaccinated does not appear to be a reason. He said most children and adults have already been vaccinated, and older adults who have had it in the past are immune.
Apa said the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine remains a good way to prevent the illness, with an 88 percent effectiveness rate. Although King County is seeing a spike in mumps cases this year, only one case has resulted in hospitalization, Apa said, adding the vaccination can lessen the severity of the illness. It remains, however, a serious illness.
“It’s a significant outbreak, and one we want to take seriously,” he said. “The important message for parents and adults is if you aren’t already vaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, this is a good time to do it.”
According to the Public Health Insider blog, symptoms for mumps can be headache, fever and swelling of the cheeks and jaw. Infrequently, mumps can cause more serious complications, such as brain and spinal cord inflammation and deafness. According to the blog, most people recover from mumps in a few weeks. Mumps is spread by coughing, sneezing, spreading saliva, sharing cups and utensils or touching objects.