Cases of mumps in Colorado climbing, nearly 150 Steamboat students not immunized
Steamboat Springs — A Colorado mumps outbreak focused on the Front Range reached 49 cases last week, though the contagious disease has yet to reach the Yampa Valley this year.
The 49 cases reported in the first two months of 2017 are high compared to only 17 cases reported in all of 2016 in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Northwest Colorado Health public health nurse manager Farrah Smilanich said people are encouraged to vaccinate against mumps to keep the contagious disease, which causes swelling of salivary glands, fever, headache and other symptoms, out of the community.
“The more who are protected, the less likely we are to see vaccine-preventable diseases in our communities,” Smilanich said.
It’s recommended that children receive two MMR vaccinations, one typically at 12 to 15 months of age and another when the child begins school at 4 to 6 years old.
According to Smilanich, estimates suggest less than 50 percent of Routt and Moffat county residents have had the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine. But she cautioned these estimates are based on provider self-reporting and likely underestimate the true numbers.
As with immunizations for other infections and viral diseases, a portion of Steamboat Springs School District students have submitted a waiver to the district to be exempt from the otherwise required MMR immunization.
Across the district, 142 students of about 2,500 are not immunized with the MMR vaccine. This equates to about 5 percent of students.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced in early February that students who contracted mumps would be kept out of school for five days after mumps gland swelling begins.
Additionally, a student without appropriate MMR vaccines could be kept out of school for 25 or more days if any students at the school contracted mumps, with the length of time dependent upon how many people at the school have mumps.
“Persons suspected of having mumps should contact their physician and self-isolate at home until at least five days after the onset of salivary gland swelling,” Smilanich said.
Smilanich said that while severe complications from mumps are rare, they can include meningitis, inflammation of the ovaries or testicles and deafness.
She said parents of school-aged children in Colorado should review their immunization records. Public health nurses at Northwest Colorado Health in Steamboat Springs and Craig are available to review immunization records and make vaccine recommendations.
Northwest Colorado Health has immunization appointments available Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call 970-879-1632.
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