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Hawaii’s mumps outbreak easing despite topping 900 cases, state says

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / crussell@staradvertiser.com

    State health officials encourage that adolescents aged 10 to 19 and adults born in 1957 or later to get an “outbreak dose” of the Mumps Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine.

State Health Department officials say there are signs that the mumps outbreak is slowing in Hawaii despite new cases recently being recorded on Oahu and the Big Island.

As of Thursday, the total number of confirmed mumps cases statewide was 902, with 719 on Oahu, 131 on the Big Island, 49 on Kauai and three on Maui.

“We’d noted in January some signs disease activity may be slowly declining, and that has appeared to continue through February,” said state epidemiologist Sarah Park in an e-mail. “However, it is still too early to say whether this decline may continue or increase again, especially when considering that between the beginning of January and now we’ve confirmed more than 120 new cases.”

The current outbreak began last March, with two clusters of cases involving nine people on Oahu. The number of cases climbed steadily and reached 500 by late October with confirmed cases in all counties, prompting the Health Department to recommend an “outbreak dose” of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine for adolescents aged 10 to 19 and adults born in 1957 or later.

While the disease has been confirmed in both children and adults who have been vaccinated and those who have not, nearly 60 percent of cases have been in adults that are 18 years and older. So far, there have been 26 reports of complications due to mumps infection, which can include hearing loss.

Park said the public should continue to remain vigilant and get the MMR vaccine.

“The risk of being exposed to and infected by mumps, unfortunately, is still quite high in our community,” she said. “We may very well continue to see new cases at a steady rate for some months to come unless people take measures to help control the disease spread: practice social distancing, stay home if sick to keep your germs from others, and get the outbreak MMR dose.”

Persons with mumps and those who are potentially infectious should also limit contact with others to prevent spreading the disease, officials say. Other preventive measures include washing hands frequently with soap and water, not sharing food or drinks, and disinfecting surfaces to avoid disease transmission.

The MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies.

Healthcare providers should report any suspected cases of mumps to the Health Department at 586-4586.

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