GAINESVILLE, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) – The Alachua County Health Department is warning of an unusual outbreak of the mumps. Department spokesperson Paul Myers said 12 cases of the illness have been reported to their office.
That number may seem small, but the department said the county’s baseline is between 0 and 2 cases; making this about a 500 percent increase. However, Myers stressed
that the cases are easily traced in this outbreak.
“This is an outbreak between a very close knit group of individuals,” said Myers. “They probably shared utensils, they may have shared drinking vessels.”
The health department says that’s the primary means for transmission of the illness. Leaders at the University of Florida confirm they have between 10 and 12 cases of the mumps reported among the students at their Gainesville campus
“We’re currently in the process of reaching out to students to communicate to them through emails and social media to let them know about this,” said University Spokesman Steve Orlando.
Myers said the county does occasionally see outbreaks of the mumps, but this situation is more unusual because the patients are vaccinated.
“These things do happen; it’s a phenomenon that’s not completely understood,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is possible rare for some vaccinated individuals to get the mumps, however symptoms tend to be much less severe for those folks.
According to the Mayo Clinic the mumps is now considered very rare with fewer than 20,000 cases per year in the US. The clinic’s website says rates have dropped significantly thanks to the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccination.
However, the CDC reports mumps cases showing up throughout the country, and Myers said the decline in vaccination rates in Alachua and elsewhere makes these outbreaks more concerning.
Mumps is an illness with flu-like symptoms that is most known for giving patients puffy, swollen cheeks. Myers said it tends to pass through patients with time, but the illness can lead to serious complications.
“Check your vaccination status; make sure you’re vaccinated,” he said. “It’s a safe vaccine, it’s an effective vaccine even though we have this outbreak in a group of vaccinated individuals.”
Mumps has begun to make a comeback in Florida and around the globe, and Alachua County in Florida is among the places it’s gotten a foothold.
An increased number of reports of the contagious virus — which brings fever, muscle aches and headaches and its trademark puffy jowls look, among other symptoms — has local health officials worried.
Florida Department of Health records show that 215 cases have been reported since 2010 with 165 since 2017. Paul Myers, administrator for the Alachua County Health Department, said the increase reflects a nationwide wave.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April that 41 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. reported mumps infections in 736 people since the start of 2019, mostly from California, Texas and Pennsylvania. The Irish Times reported that over 1,000 cases of mumps have been seen in Ireland, twice as many as were recorded in 2018.
Florida has reported 33 cases during that period and is on pace to surpass its previous highest number this decade in 2017 ― 74, according to state health records.
Federal authorities keep a Do Not Board list to prevent those who pose a public health risk from getting on planes.
Health officials in five states have warned people believed to be infected with measles and planning to travel that they could prevent them from getting on planes.
All eight individuals agreed to cancel their flights after learning the officials could ask the federal government to place them on a Do Not Board List managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Martin Cetron, director of the agency’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, which tracks disease outbreaks.
“The deterrent effect is huge,” he said.
CDC officials said the agency had been contacted about the individuals by health officials in New York, California, Illinois, Oklahoma and Washington.
The government’s travel ban authority often gets little discussion “because it is a politically charged and politically visible request,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health policy at Georgetown University.
Though less restrictive than isolation or quarantine, the public health measure “is seen as a government using its power over the people and the states, which is kind of toxic in America right now,” said Gostin. “There is nothing unethical or wrong about it. It’s just plain common sense that if you have an actively infectious individual, they should not get on an airplane.”
Health officials emphasize that vaccination is the best and most effective way to protect against measles, and that the majority of people with infectious, communicable diseases, like measles, listen to doctors’ advice not to travel.
Officials in Rockland County, N.Y. and New York City, the epicenter of measles outbreaks since last fall, say they have advised several infected individuals against traveling.
Earlier this spring, Rockland health officials, who have had 238 measles cases since last October, consulted with CDC about placing two infectious individuals on the list to prevent them from flying to Israel for the Passover holiday, a county spokesman said.
“It served as an effective deterrent,” said spokesman John Lyon. “They did not travel.”
In New York City, which has 523 cases in the nation’s largest outbreak, the health department advised two individuals “who were not immune to measles” and had been exposed to the virus, against flying during the disease’s 21-day incubation period.
“We have worked with passengers to minimize the inconvenience of travel disruptions in order to protect the health of New Yorkers and other travelers,” spokesman Patrick Gallahue said in statement this week. “People have been very cooperative.”
Both those governments have already taken more controversial and restrictive public health measures to stem the outbreaks. New York City closed schools that refused to keep unvaccinated children home and issued mandatory vaccination orders for people living in several Brooklyn neighborhoods with a potential $1,000 fine; Rockland County issued an emergency order banning anyone diagnosed with measles or exposed to a person with measles from gathering in public places for up to 21 days, or face a fine of $2,000 a day.
The United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases this year – 880 cases have been reported in 24 states, according to data updated Monday by the CDC. That number is the largest since 1994.
The outbreaks are occurring because vaccination coverage globally and domestically is faltering, fueled in part by an increasingly organized anti-vaccine movement. Global travel is playing an enormous role in spreading one of the most infectious pathogens from one location to the next.
The majority of U.S. measles cases originated from unvaccinated U.S. residents returning from places where large outbreaks are occurring, including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said his county’s outbreak began with seven travelers coming from countries with big measles outbreaks. On Monday, he wrote President Trump asking the White House to issue an executive order, or ask Congress to pass a law, requiring visitors to present “certification of appropriate immunization.”
The current international health regulations require proof of routine immunization certificates only for yellow fever, Cetron said. “Changes to this policy would require a significant amount of international cooperation,” he added.
It would be “chaos” and unwieldy and probably a violation of international health regulations, Gostin said, for the United States to single out proof of measles vaccination.
The Do Not Board list was developed in 2007 after an Atlanta man with drug-resistant tuberculosis caused a health scare after he flew to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon after health officials unsuccessfully advised against overseas travel. Although no other passengers were believed to have been infected, the episode led to the creation of the list, which has been used primarily for people with tuberculosis. In 2014, when the United States had 667 measles cases, two people with measles were placed on the list and were kept from travel.
The risk of catching measles on a plane is relatively low since 80 to 85 percent of U.S. travelers are immunized, Cetron said. Nonetheless, the record number of measles cases this year has already led to 62 airplane-related investigations of contacts of people with measles who were on flights. (The CDC counts each leg of a flight as one investigation). That’s a big increase over previous years: in 2017, there were a total of 15 of these labor-intensive investigations, and in 2018, there were 81.
Placing someone on the list requires the CDC to determine that that person is infectious, or likely to be infectious with a serious communicable illness, and occurs only after all avenues have been exhausted, Cetron said. In addition, health officials work with airlines to eliminate change fees.
“If all those things are not enough to convince somebody, then the last thing we do is contact the Department of Homeland Security, give them the appropriate identifying information, and someone gets put on the list,” Cetron said. “And if they were to go to the airport, they’re not issued a boarding card.”
Some health departments have taken steps to try to secure refunds for those who voluntarily agreed to change their plans.
In suburban Detroit, which had 41 cases spread by one man who traveled there from Brooklyn, for instance, health department officials wrote letters to airlines asking that individuals who followed their advice get their money back, said Russell Faust, medical director of Oakland County, Mich.’s health department.
A massive education campaign led by the county health department aims to increase awareness and prevention of mumps, a contagious disease caused by a virus that is currently present in the Rio Grande Valley.
Last week, a case of mumps was found at Bryan Elementary School, which is part of the Mission Consolidated Independent School District. When the discovery was made at the campus, students were sent home with a letter detailing how the district was handling the sanitation of the school and phone calls were made that same evening.
In the letter, information on how the virus is spread, symptoms of the mumps and vaccination details were all highlighted. It also encouraged families to keep sick children out of school.
According to Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Director Eduardo Olivarez, keeping the public informed in this way is one of the ways to keep the virus contained.
“Of all the cases [in the county], over half of them are between 20 and 30 years old, which is odd,” Olivarez said. “We’re talking with the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Department of State Health Services, and we can’t figure it out. It’s not a new strain or a wild strain, it’s genotype ‘G’ for general mumps. Across the country it’s all the same age group, so we don’t think it was a bad lot of vaccines because it’s so spread out.”
As of 10 a.m. Monday morning, 46 confirmed cases of the mumps have been diagnosed in Hidalgo County since the end of March/beginning of April.
“Confirmation is done by a combination of laboratory testing and physical symptoms identified by a physician,” Olivarez said. “We have reported cases in pretty much every major community in Hidalgo County, so this is no longer in just a concentrated area.”
According to a recent press release from the department, “mumps is a contagious virus that causes fever, muscle aches, headache, loss of appetite and swelling of the salivary glands, which can include the jaw and neck area.” Other glands in adults can be swollen or tender, and adult males “may experience swollen or tender testicles.”
“It is not a deadly disease,” Olivarez said. “It’s a nuisance and an economic illness because you may be out of work or school for as much as a week. Can anyone afford to be out of school or work for a week?”
There are cases in Mission, McAllen, Pharr, Weslaco, San Juan and Edinburg. The mumps virus is spread mostly through airborne spittle between people in close social contact.
“The good thing is of those 46 cases, probably less than 8 as of printing may still be contagious, but all the other cases are no longer contagious,” Olivarez said. “But they’re isolated, they are staying home from work or school.”
Olivarez said that currently, there are ten pending cases that the county is still waiting to hear results from. He brought up the R0 (pronounced “R naught”) measurement, which is the number of people one sick people will infect.
The R0 for mumps states that for every one person who contracts the virus, 10 more will be infected. The values for Hepatitis C and Ebola is 2, for HIV and SARS is 4, and measles is 18.
“Everything started at the end of March/first of April,” Olivarez said. “Incubation is from 14 to 21 days, so if a person came in contact with an infected person, but their immune system was weakened, even if they are vaccinated the virus still attaches to them. It will take 14 to 21 days to show symptoms.”
Once a person starts showing symptoms, they become infectious to others. Symptoms will show for a week or less, and when a person is no longer symptomatic they are no longer infectious.
“I’m expecting a third wave, which is probably going to be right about now,” Olivarez said. “Towards the end of this month, I’m expecting more cases to come up just because of exposure. I’m expecting another one at the end of June.”
Olivarez said the high vaccination rate in the county has prevented the virus from spreading faster and kept it more contained. 46 cases out of over an estimated 1 million people is less than .01 percent.
“We have an average vaccination rate [ages 6 to 19 in Hidalgo County] of 85 to 90 percent vaccinated,” Olivarez said. “That’s a high number, and it’s been like that for several years.”
If born after 1982, a person should have been vaccinated twice. If born prior to that year, they were only administered one mumps vaccination, and may want to look into getting a booster.
“People who work in the medical field and first responders need to consider getting a booster,” Olivarez said. “They need to speak with their physicians to determine if they are eligible.”
Olivarez said that people with a weakened immune system or women who are pregnant should not get the booster because it may complicate things.
“They need to consult their doctor because there’s a group of those people who can benefit from getting some protection,” Olivarez said. “But there’s a group of those people that cannot get it. Only your physician can guide you.”
People who cannot get the vaccine due to their weakened immune system rely on the community to remain vaccinated so the virus can remain contained. The current outbreak of mumps and measles in the country has been attributed to the anti-vaccination movement.
“Vaccination is key,” Olivarez said. “A lot of the anti-vaxxers’ movement is stemmed from misinformation.
Vaccinations have kept it from getting worse. If there were no vaccinations, more people would be getting it.”
The department also stressed that the current spread of the virus has not come from any immigration issues in Hidalgo County. They have been in weekly contact with Customs and Border Patrol, who have seen one outbreak in a Cameron County detention facility but none in Hidalgo.
“I average two to three mumps cases every year, usually found in children,” Olivarez said. “This is the first time we have a public outbreak in many years, probably over 15, 20 years.”
Olivarez said the medical and school communities have been extremely focused on the issue, and several reported cases have come back negative thanks to the awareness of these entities.
“They have been so good at assessing it,” Olivarez said. “We’ve gotten more negative results than positive, but that’s a good thing. I’ve got to thank the medical community, UTRGV, STC, and the school districts for being so diligent.”
The mumps outbreak will be considered finished after the county goes 42 days without a case.
ROANOKE, Va. – Lyme disease is spreading across the country and it’s not always easy to detect. 30,000 cases are reported to the CDC every year.
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. The infection can be treated with antibiotics but unless it’s caught early it can cause long-lasting side effects, like joint pain and fatigue.
In about 70 percent of the cases, you get a bullseye-shaped rash.
“As the infection persists longer and longer over time those bacteria can move from that tick bite site to different places in the body,” said Mollie Jewett, who is with the UCF College of Medicine.
Jewett and her team are researching how the bacteria evade the immune system. They’re developing a new diagnostic test of a patient’s blood for the very early presence of the bacteria. Jewett’s lab is working with engineers at UCF to develop a Lyme detection module that could sit in a doctor’s office, but says the device is still several years away.
It took Sam Perry a long time to be diagnosed. The Perrys say they visited their family doctor, and several specialists ruling out everything from Hashimoto’s disease to leukemia. Her family spent $24,000 out of pocket in one year to treat Lyme disease, getting antibiotics and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed recently with “acute” hepatitis a? If so we need you to donate plasma to help others. Plasma is needed in the Diagnostic and Research and Development for further research as well as to create controls for test kits.
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Have you or someone you know been recently diagnosed with having ‘active” Measles? If so take part in this unique antibody plasma donation program to help diagnostic as well as research development and others with your condition.
To learn more and to see if you qualify please visit http://www.accessclinical.com, or you may call 800-510-4003 to discuss it with an agent today.
Hurry, this is a time sensitive program so the sooner you inquire and are are screened the longer you can participate. You can earn up to $500.00 each time you donate and you can safely donate 2x per week.
“Basic Donor Qualifications”:-
MUST be HIV/HCV/HBV Negative
Must be 18-65 years in age and weigh at least 110 pounds or more
Must have, or have access to your diagnostic test results showing your Measles antibodies.