Mumps Surface at Trinity Valley Elementary School

Mumps is a virus that attacks glands in the human body. Once a common illness in children and young adults, mumps has become a rare disease in the U.S. due to mass vaccination that began in the late 1940s.

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

A student at Trinity Valley Elementary School in Willow Creek was diagnosed with the Mumps, and the district warned parents that their children may have been exposed to the disease.

Hoopa Elementary School Principal Jennifer Lane said the whole community should be concerned.

“It’s really crazy because the child was immunized. I don’t understand why a fully immunized kid would come down with this,” Lane said.

Warning Letters about the situation were sent to parents throughout the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District, and not just to those of the 178 students at Trinity Valley.

“Even though it’s an isolated case up there, the incubation period is 12 to 25 days. Some of the kids here could have had contact,” Lane said.

Parents were asked to watch their children for any signs or symptoms of the Mumps.

The disease’s symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw.

“They look like little chipmunks,” District Nurse Angie Brown said, referring to the swelling.

The contagious period – when other people can catch the disease – usually begins two days before the onset of swelling of the salivary glands, and usually ends five days after.

“The incubation period is ending, but we still need parents to be aware,” Brown said. “I would urge people to contact their medical providers if they see any signs or symptoms of Mumps.”

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises that children be given the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine when they are between 12 and 15 months old, followed up by a second dose when they are between four and six years old.

The CDC advises that two doses of the vaccine will prevent most, but not all, cases of Mumps.

This is the first reported case of the Mumps in the United States since 2009 where the person who contracted the virus was vaccinated and hadn’t been outside of the U.S.

It was once a very common, and very painful, childhood disease.

Deaths from the disease are rare, but in some cases, Mumps infections have led to inflammation of the brain – encephalitis — or meningitis.

Adolescents and adults face extra risks if they become infected. There is a risk of the testicles becoming infected in males, of spontaneous abortions for females early in pregnancy, and of hearing loss for both sexes.

“Mumps is not a common thing unless you travel outside the country,” Brown said, “because just about everyone in the US is immunized.”

Terry Bray, the Trinity Valley Elementary School secretary said that the child had been in and out of the hospital for a while and Humboldt County health authorities weren’t sure at first what was causing the illness.

“On the child’s second trip back to the hospital, they took a blood test,” Bray said. “The child tested positive for Mumps.”

Sandra Moon, Trinity Valley’s principal, said, “All we can do is go by what the doctors said. I just feel sorry for the family. They must be scared.”

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