Amid an increasing number of mumps cases reported in Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health today urged residents to be alert for any sign of the disease in their community and to take steps to protect themselves.
At least nine cases of mumps have already been reported in Los Angeles County this year, six of which have been confirmed, said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. By comparison, seven cases were confirmed countywide in all of 2009, seven in 2008, and five in 2007.
Four of the confirmed cases have occurred in the past two months and may be related to the multi-state mumps outbreak affecting the Hasidic Jewish population that was first seen in this country on the East Coast. Specifically, cases have been detected in congregate settings such as schools, colleges, and community centers.
Mumps is a vaccine-preventable viral illness that is transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms begin from 12 to 25 days after exposure, and include swelling of salivary glands, fever and inflammation of the testes in teenage and adult males. Up to 20 percent of infected individuals may be asymptomatic, however. Symptoms tend to decrease after one week and usually go away after 10 days, but in some cases the illness can cause severe symptoms that include inflammation of the testicles, meningitis and encephalitis.
The best protection against the mumps is to make sure that you receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, said Dr. Fielding. If you develop mumps symptoms, avoid congregate settings where you could spread the disease to others, and contact your doctor immediately.
Unimmunized children under age 19 who do not have health insurance or a regular source of health care can receive low-cost or free mumps vaccine through a Public Health center (during vaccine clinic hours), or through their local community health center.
For information on Public Health vaccine clinics, locate a health center near you by using the Public Health website or by calling the LA County Information line at 2-1-1. Contact the health center to make a vaccine appointment.