Vol. 8, No. 3
March 2016

Mumps nears end in some counties

A mumps outbreak that began in July in Johnson County among young adults attending the University of Iowa officially ended in the county on March 14, but continues to spread through other counties, mostly those with a university campus.

Mumps virus colorized and electron-microscope enhanced

At the height of the outbreak in Johnson County, UI Student Health officials worked with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and Johnson County Public Health Department to open clinics across campus that provided free vaccinations for students prior to the Thanksgiving break.

The State Hygienic Laboratory tests mumps specimens from around the state. Collection instructions are available on the Hygienic Laboratory website.

Since the spring 2016 semester began, the number of cases in Johnson County has steadily declined, and the county outbreak was officially closed by Johnson County Public Health Department.

As of March 28, 564 laboratory-confirmed cases of mumps were reported, the majority coming from eastern and central Iowa. The largest number of cases was in Johnson County, which reported 293, and Black Hawk County with 119.

Mumps can easily spread in shared living quarters such as those typical on university campuses. Most of the cases in the current outbreak reportedly occurred in University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa students.

“Over the last several weeks, mumps activity has decreased on the University of Iowa campus,” State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk reported on March 11.

“The number of cases identified on the University of Northern Iowa campus has been slightly increasing over the same time period and is being watched closely.”

The most common symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen salivary glands under the jaw. The disease can lead to hearing loss, aseptic meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) and, in 20 to 30 percent of males who have reached puberty, the disease can cause painful, swollen testicles. Individuals at risk are urged to receive a third dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.