Health officials warn of mumps outbreak in Grant County

Officials: 52 reports, 23 confirmed cases
Health officials warn of mumps outbreak in Grant County

The Grant County Health Department has seen a sharp increase in the number of mumps cases reported in the county.

Grant County Health Department Director Jeff Kindrai said there have been 52 reports and 23 confirmed cases of the mumps since October 2016.

“Currently, there’s outbreaks that we’ve been told about in both Iowa and Illinois, and we border both of those states, so it’s possible that we could get cases just about anywhere in the county,” Kindrai said.

He said people in their mid-20s have been the most affected, but the health department has seen people younger than 15 and older than 55 also get the disease.

“It’s still an active outbreak and some cases are still under investigation,” Kindrai said.

The disease, which causes the salivary glands to swell, is very contagious.

“If people go to work or school when they’re ill, they’re much more likely to transmit it because it’s spread by droplets of saliva and close contact,” Kindrai said.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville officials said there have been five to six confirmed cases of students contracting the mumps since the fall.

“We have 8,000 students here and 3,700 of them are in the residence halls,” Paul Erickson, public information officer, said. “So we’re in close quarters.”

Erickson said the school sent two emails alerting students, staff and faculty about the mumps cases. Some students on campus say they’re being extra careful after hearing the news.

“It made me much more cautious about being clean all the time, making sure I wash all my clothes, don’t share utensils with my friends or just general stuff like that,” sophomore William Henning said.

Kindrai said the best protection from getting the mumps is to be up-to-date on vaccinations, but it’s still possible to get the mumps even if you are vaccinated.

“It’s about 88 percent effective,” he said. “So even if you are vaccinated, you’ve still got to monitor for symptoms, and if you develop symptoms, follow advice from your doctor. Mainly, stay home when you’re sick and not go to work and school.”

Kindrai also recommends taking the same precautions as with the flu, including washing your hands and covering your coughs. UW-Platteville officials say students have been doing a good job of following this advice.

“We’ve seen a lot of students actually be proactive on this and get checked, which is really what you want to have happen,” Erickson said.

There have been no new cases of the mumps reported on UW-Platteville’s campus so far this semester.