State and local authorities are working to contain a recent outbreak of mumps in the Anchorage area which has infected at least 40 people, calling for some groups to receive a third mumps vaccination.

A total of 62 people – including 44 confirmed, 12 probable and six suspect cases – were involved in the outbreak, according to a Wednesday bulletin from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Only two people have been hospitalized with no fatalities from the disease, which causes fever, headache and loss of appetite along with swollen salivary glands.

Some 82 percent of the patients identified themselves as native Hawaiians or Pacific islanders, in a joint investigation started by DHSS and Anchorage’s Department of Health and Human Services after an initial case in May.

“All 56 confirmed and probable cases were residents of or (people who had) spent extensive time in Anchorage,” state officials wrote. “While the original source of the outbreak is uncertain, several of the initial patients reported recent travel to or close contact with a person who had recently traveled to a Pacific island where mumps is circulating.”Dr. Amanda Tiffany, epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health wrote:

We have anecdotal reports of travel between Alaska and Hawaii and American Samoa; however, there are many Pacific Islands where mumps is circulating at the moment (map above). It’s also important to remember that this mumps outbreak is not unique to Alaska, almost 4,500 mumps cases have been reported to the CDC in the US this year (https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html), over 300 case have been reported in both Washington State and Hawaii.

Two recommended doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine typically take place in early childhood, at 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years of age. Patients in the Anchorage outbreak who have received the vaccine twice reported that a median of 12 years had passed between those vaccinations, however.

The state and also asking that native Hawaiians, Pacific islanders and people in group settings where mumps is circulating receive a third MMR vaccine if they are free of mumps, or their second dose if it hasn’t yet been administered. The state is supplying vaccinations to the groups recommended for an additional dose, as well as patients covered by the Alaska Vaccine Assessment Program through their insurers or health-care providers. Alaska Medicaid is also covering MMR vaccines during the outbreak.

Tiffany says many people don't know if they have been vaccinated for mumps and may not have any records. So, it wouldn't hurt for everyone to get up to date with their Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccinations regardless of race.

"This is a great time for all Alaskans to think about their vaccination status," she said. "In individuals who are at risk for exposure, we strongly suggest they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and if they have already received 2 doses to get a third. For people who don’t know their vaccination status but are at risk, they should get a dose of MMR now."

Patients with confirmed or suspected mumps cases should isolate themselves for five days after symptoms first appear.

In addition, DHSS is asking doctors to ensure patients are up-to-date on their MMR vaccines. Any suspected cases should be reported to the state’s Section of Epidemiology at 907-269-8000 or 800-478-0084 after hours, with any clinical notes faxed to 907-563-7868. Cheek swab samples from patients should be sent to the state’s virology lab, in accordance with instructions online.

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