Alaska mumps cases over 100 and growing
Anchorage is in the middle of a mumps outbreak that health workers say shows no sign of stopping.
Dr. Joe McLaughlin, with the state Department of Health and Social Services, said there have been 104 cases of the mumps confirmed in Anchorage since the outbreak first started in May and another 18 considered probable.
McLaughlin said those numbers are likely to go even higher during the holidays as more people gather and potentially spread the illness.
McLaughlin said the best defense against the mumps is to make sure your vaccinations are up to date, particularly the MMR vaccine that protects against the mumps. Most people have received two doses in childhood but those who haven't should get a second dose.
And, some people should consider getting a third. McLaughlin said those include children or adults who spend time in places the mumps are known to circulate, as well as Pacific Islanders since 70 percent of the Anchorage cases have been in that population.
McLaughlin said it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to show up once a person has been exposed. Those symptoms can include general fatigue and aches, low-level fever, loss of appetite, and, most significantly, painfully swollen cheeks.
McLaughlin said people who experience symptoms should call their doctor and not go into a clinic unannounced. Once confirmed, they need to stay home.
"The most critical thing is to self-isolate for five days, and that's five days after onset of your symptoms, especially the swollen cheeks. That means no school, no going to work during those five days."
Most people with mumps recover on their own within three weeks, but McLaughlin said there are occasional complications. He said people need to take the mumps seriously and, if they do get sick, do everything they can to avoid spreading the virus to others.
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