DENVER — A large outbreak of the mumps across the nation could be rippling into Colorado, health officials warned Friday, as 14 cases were diagnosed in January alone.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) officials launched a large investigation with the Tri-County Health Department and Denver Public Health after 11 patients in Denver and Aurora learned they were diagnosed with the viral infection. Three other patients were diagnosed, but aren't believed to be part of the outbreak, which overall could be linked to other states — specifically Washington.
A fact sheet has been disseminated to doctors and physicians in the area, urging them to consider patients who have salivary gland swelling for further testing.
As mumps cases often go undetected or untested, the outbreak in Colorado is "likely" to grow, CDPHE officials said.
Even those who are vaccinated are susceptible to mumps, as the vaccine is only roughly 88 percent effective, and effectiveness can wane after the vaccine has been administered.
Mumps is an infection spread by direct human-to-human contact through respiratory droplets or saliva. Average incubation periods range from 16 to 18 days on average, but up to 12 to 25 days.
Symptoms of the infection aren't limited to swelling of salivary and parotid glands across the cheek and jaw area, swelling can range from the frontal part of the ear and spread as fluid builds up. Other symptoms can at times include low-grade fevers, malaise, loss of appetite, headache and more, but not all who have mumps will exhibit symptoms.
Severe complications from the infection are rare, but can include sterility, spontaneous abortion, deafness and more.
The risks associated with the infection have prompted health officials concerned about the thousands of current cases across the nation to ask parents to be on the lookout.
“Because of the high numbers of mumps cases across the country, it is especially important to make sure your children are vaccinated,” Rachel Herlihy, director of the Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said. “Both adults and children should make sure they are up to date on their mumps vaccine.”
In Colorado, the CDPHE says for children between 19-and 35-months-old, 93.6 percent have one or more doses of the vaccine. For children between 13-and 17-years-old, 92.3 percent have two or more doses of the vaccine.