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12 Mumps Cases Confirmed In Sangamon County
The director of the Sangamon County Department of Public Health says they have seen one case of mumps every year for the last three years.
That's not the case this year. Over the last few weeks, there have been a dozen confirmed cases.
Mumps is spread through the respiratory system. It's so contagious, even local hospitals are taking extra precautions.
"The 12 cases we have are really unusual. For the last three years we have only had one case per year," said Jim Stone, Director of the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.
Those 12 cases have been confirmed by the health department over the last 30 days. Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. After that, cheeks and salivary glands may swell.
A vaccine is available to prevent mumps, but health officials are urging anyone who isn't vaccinated to take steps now to prevent an outbreak.
"Basic, good hygienic practices. Washing your hands before you touch your eyes, your nose, or your mouth. Making sure you cough into the crook of your elbow and if you're sick, stay home," said Stone.
But local doctors say mumps is so contagious that even the best hygiene practices may prove ineffective.
"Unfortunately, you can contract mumps just from a cough. Or someone who speaks, or sings, or whistles or sneezes," said Dr. Donald Graham from the Springfield Clinic.
Graham says if patients have mumps symptoms, to call ahead first. Emergency rooms and doctors' offices must take extra precautions before a patient with mumps walks in.
"People in the waiting room or people just walking by may actually been susceptible," said Graham.
Doctors say the virus was common in the 70s, but since that time vaccines have been doing their job. The most recent cases of mumps have come as a surprise.
"In Illinois and throughout the country, mumps is a very rare disease. This has to be considered a very unusual outbreak," said Graham.
If you have had mumps in the past, doctors say you are immune. If you are unsure, you can take a blood test, but doctors say the best measure is to receive at least two doses of the mumps vaccine at least 28 days apart.
Officials at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health say the confirmed cases of mumps are in adults who knew one another.
It's still unknown why cases are up, but health officials say they are continuing to monitor the situation.