One adult in Whatcom County has been sickened by the mumps, and public health officials are working to identify friends, family and others who may have been exposed to the ill person.
It was unknown Monday where the person, who reported having been vaccinated, got the mumps.
The county Health Department is notifying people who may have been exposed to the ill Whatcom County resident, so they can monitor themselves for symptoms and get medical help should they need it.
Signs of the illness include fever, muscle aches, headache and swelling of the cheeks and jaw.
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Mumps is contagious. The virus spreads easily through coughing, sneezing, talking, or sharing cups or eating utensils.
It usually lasts a week to 10 days.
Washington is in the midst of a statewide mumps outbreak that has sickened at least 823 people since October, according to the state Department of Health.
The last time the state saw this number of cases was in 1976, when there were 946 cases, according to state health officials. Last year, there were 155 mumps cases statewide.
The MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – vaccine is the first line of defense against its spread, health officials said.
But it’s not perfect, so people are being asked to watch for symptoms, even if they have been vaccinated.
“We don’t know what’s causing the outbreak. We do not think it’s related to low MMR coverage, because a majority of the reported cases are vaccinated with the recommended doses,” said Dave Johnson, spokesman for the Washington state Department of Health.
King and Spokane counties, which have been hit hardest in the outbreak, have more than half of the cases.
Johnson said two doses of the vaccine provide lifelong protection against mumps for 9 out of 10 people.
“That’s why it’s important for everyone to get the vaccine, to protect people for whom the vaccine might not work, and those who can’t be vaccinated,” he added.
Johnson recommended these steps to protect yourself from the mumps:
▪ Make sure you’re current on your vaccinations.
▪ Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with other people.
▪ If you think you have the mumps, contact your doctor first.
Learn more online at doh.wa.gov/mumps.