The Delaware Division of Public Health has now confirmed 11 cases of mumps in New Castle County.
Health officials said the outbreak is linked to two Mexican social dances held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington this month and last.
Seven of the cases occurred in people who either attended or lived with someone who attended the Baile Mejicano dance on Feb. 10. An eighth person worked at a second Mexican dance at the Chase Center on March 3.
Mumps is spread easily through saliva or mucus so an infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sharing food, even touching surfaces with unwashed hands that others then touch. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and loss of appetite followed by swollen salivary glands, which results in puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. The virus can sometimes lead to meningitis, hearing loss or other serious complications.
Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but they can show up from 12 to 25 days after infection. Some patients may not have any symptoms.
DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay recommends that everyone who attended the dances contact their primary care physician to determine if they may have contracted mumps — and if they and their family or close contacts need to receive vaccinations against mumps.
“It’s helpful if we can identify individuals who may have had it, even if they just had mild symptoms, to make sure that any individual who may have contacted someone with mumps gets their vaccination or is up to date with their vaccinations,” Rattay said. “What’s important is folks do what’s necessary to help contain the spread. ”
A few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted a substantial increase in the number of mumps outbreaks and outbreak-associated cases in the United States since late 2015.
“That may be because there’s not as much mumps out in the community, people’s immunity may weaken over time against mumps. And it may end up being that a third dose ends up being recommended in adolescents in the not-too-distant future,” Rattay said. “Bottom line is what the CDC is finding, and what we’re finding in this case as well, is that for young adults and perhaps even older, their immunity may not be what it needs to be to protect them against mumps,” even if they’re up to date on their vaccinations.
Those who attended the Baile Mejicano event or live with someone who did, and do not have health insurance or insurance to cover the mumps/measles/rubella (MMR) vaccine, can call one of the following DPH clinics:
In New Castle County, call the Hudson State Service Center Immunization Clinic at 302-283-7587, (and select option #2) for an appointment to get an MMR vaccine; patients who live in Kent County and need vaccination may call DPH’s Kent County Immunization Clinic at 302-857-5140; and those in Sussex County may call DPH’s Georgetown Immunization Clinic at 302-515-3220.
Anyone who is known or suspected to have mumps should stay away from school or work until five days after the onset of swollen salivary glands, as there is no specific treatment for mumps.