Mumps cases in King County jump to new high

AUBURN, Wash. --  The number of mumps cases jumped again Wednesday from 36 confirmed and probable cases to 44.

The rise in cases is alarming for parents like Kierstyn Fredericks, who has a 2-year-old son.

“Their immune system is not strong,” Fredericks noted.

More of a reason for Fredericks to be worried about the latest mumps outbreak spreading across King County.

“It really worries me about him being around other kids. Just now in the WIC office, I wouldn’t let him play, I didn’t want to be around other kids,” Fredericks said.

Her child has been vaccinated but so were nearly 60% of patients included in the outbreak.

“All we can do is stay clean but it’s hard because there are kids running all around,” mom Amanda Pugh said.

Pugh is especially concerned because she has a newborn who cannot get the mumps vaccine until she turns 1.  She also has an 11-year-old who goes to the Auburn School District, where most of the patients with mumps have been identified.

“Unprecedented for us,” Auburn School District spokeswoman Vicki Alonzo said.

More than 200 students out of 16,000 are unvaccinated for the mumps in the district as of Wednesday night, she said. Those children cannot come to school until they are vaccinated.

“If they’ve had at least one vaccination, they are allowed to come to school, but we are encouraging them to get the second dose,” Alonzo said.

Doctors say the mumps vaccine, or MMR, comes in two doses and two is a better defense than one.

“Students cannot come to school for 25 days until the last case. At this point, we don’t know when that last case is,” Alonzo said.

Although the majority of the 44 confirmed or probable cases of mumps are in Auburn, the King County Health Department says it’s also now in Pacific, Federal Way and Kent.

“I definitely hope they can figure out what’s going on so they can end it,” Fredericks said.

If you have the mumps, you could feel flu-like symptoms and painful swelling of the cheeks and jaw.   In rare cases, the mumps can lead to serious complications including, meningitis, inflammation of the brain and other complications.

Across the country it is already the worst year for mumps in a decade.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are more than 3,800 cases of mumps across 45 states and Washington D.C. That is the highest number of cases since 2006.

The King County Health Department is recommending people get vaccinated. They say the MMR vaccine is 88% effective.

Even if you get the mumps and were vaccinated, your symptoms could be less severe than someone who has not been vaccinated.