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State health officials say mumps likely to continue spreading in Delaware

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Division of Public Health first announced the mumps outbreak last month. The total number of mumps cases now stands at a record 19.  All are in New Castle County and most are confirmed to have attended one of two dances at the Chase Center in Wilmington, but new cases suggest a spread.

Similar outbreaks are occurring in Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and other parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report an uptick in mumps cases nationally since 2015.

Delaware Public Health Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh says the CDC is exploring whether mumps vaccines from childhood could be wearing off in adults.

“When you get any vaccination, what happens is that your body builds up a defense against the infection so that when you're exposed to the actual virus or bacteria, your body is ready to fight. But what happens with some vaccines is that after several years this kind of begins to wean,” said Maduka-Ezeh.

Maduka-Ezeh adds Delaware has probably not seen the last of this mumps outbreak as new cases indicate the virus is moving beyond those who attended the dance.

“We know that, yes, the dance was likely the place where there was kind of like a lot of spread, but now we suspect there is spread going on in the community as well,” she said.

The CDC recommends children get two mumps vaccines and adults get a third when exposed to others with mumps. Maduka-Ezeh says some of the people confirmed to have contracted the mumps in New Castle County had never received a vaccination.

The mumps can be contracted by close contact. Symptoms normally start with fever and fatigue and lead to facial swelling. Though not everyone experiences symptoms, mumps can lead to severe swelling complications in adults.

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