Lab tests come back negative for mumps at Ferndale High School

Ferndale High School
Ferndale High School eabell@bellinghamherald.com

Lab tests have come back negative for mumps at Ferndale High School, according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

Ferndale School District and the health department told parents last week that one person at the high school could have the mumps, and they were trying to identify students or staff who may have been exposed to the ill person.

Officials also said then that they were waiting for lab tests for confirmation.

Despite the negative result, public health officials said they’re continuing to monitor the school and advising people to look for signs of the illness.

“Laboratory testing does not always rule out the mumps virus in vaccinated individuals,” Mark Raaka, emergency response specialist for the county health department, said Tuesday.

“Additionally, vaccination does not always prevent disease,” Raaka said, “and people who have been vaccinated may still develop mumps. Therefore, regardless of vaccination status, WCHD continues to urge the public to watch for symptoms.”

Washington state is experiencing a mumps outbreak, with 301 confirmed or probable cases since Oct. 30.

The last time the state saw this number of mumps cases was in 1977, according to state health officials.

“We are still recommending vaccinations since cases continue to climb in counties south of us,” Raaka said, “and vaccinations are the best method we have to prevent outbreaks in our community.”

Mumps symptoms include fever, headache and swelling of the cheeks and jaw.

The virus spreads easily through coughing, sneezing, talking, and sharing cups or eating utensils.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea