Spring Breakers taking home virus from popular beach destination

Texas is experiencing a 20-year high in mumps cases with spring break travelers being infected by the highly contagious virus.

Symptoms of the virus can be uncomfortable, but it can also cause deafness and, in rare cases, fatal encephalitis which is swelling of the brain.

The mumps outbreak caused the Texas Department of State Health Services to issue an advisory to doctors and clinics.

“State, regional and local health departments are currently investigating multiple outbreaks throughout the state, including South Padre Island, a popular spring break destination for students from Texas and elsewhere in the United States.”

Thirteen people who traveled to the destination have contracted the mumps, and other cases may have gone unreported.

According to the state health department, “Texas has had 221 mumps cases this year, the largest total since there were 234 cases in 1994.”

Symptoms of mumps can take two to three weeks or longer to develop. College students are highly likely to contract the virus since they often share bottles, glasses, utensils and food.

“Mumps cases potentially linked to South Padre Island first came to light this week when another state health department contacted [the Department of State health Services] about a patient with mumps who had traveled to the area for spring break,” the department said. “Mumps symptoms include swollen or tender salivary glands, swollen or tender testicles, low fever, tiredness and muscle aches.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swollen testicles rarely cause infertility in men, despite the rumor that it does.

Arkansas is also combating a large outbreak—many cases involving immigrants from the Marshall Islands. In excess of 2,900 cases are under investigation.

The Arkansas health department’s website attests that “Throughout this outbreak, 90 percent to 95 percent of school-aged children and 30 percent to 40 percent of adults involved in the outbreak have been fully immunized.”

“The vaccine is not perfect. Two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) shot are about 88 percent effective at preventing the mumps. That means that if you have 100 people who are fully vaccinated, 88 of them will be fully protected.”

The CDC reports that the annual number of mumps cases varies. “For example in 2016, there were approximately 5,748 cases reported to CDC, and in 2012, there were 229. Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year, but the actual number of cases was likely much higher due to underreporting.”

H/T: NBC News

 

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