SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – If the number of people coming down with an illness seems high, it’s no coincidence. Influenza season isn’t quite over, the weather hasn’t been consistent and allergy season is kicking off.
But there is one disease that is making its way around Kansas causing concern for health officials. It’s mumps.
“It is certainly not something that we see yearly,” said Charlie Hunt, the state epidemiologist. “Unfortunately, we do tend to see mumps epidemics occur every few years or so.”
The state updates the number of mumps cases in Kansas each week. As of Tuesday, March 14, there are 70 reported cases of mumps across multiple counties, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). That is 14 more cases than this time last week.
Right now, Douglas County has the most reported cases at 16.
The increase began at the end of December, 2016 in Kansas but neighboring states such as Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas are experiencing the same epidemic.
“Mumps is a disease that really never really goes away,” Hunt said. “It occurs in other countries as well and unfortunately, it’s just, when the right circumstances come along, we’ll tend to see it increased in the U.S.”
With so many other bugs going around, it can be difficult to identify the mumps, Hunt said.
“That’s one of the unfortunate things is we’re still in influenza season and that causes a lot of the same symptoms initially,” he said. “You know, fever, feeling tired and achy and respiratory symptoms.”
The disease takes a few days to develop and a few weeks for recovery, according to the KDHE website.
There is one symptom in particular that, while doesn’t appear in everyone who comes down with mumps, is a pretty clear indicator to seek medical help, Hunt said.
“One of the classic symptoms of mumps, of course, is what’s called parotitis, which is the swelling of the salivary glands,” he said. “That doesn’t occur with everybody though, so it can make it a little big hard to recognize but certainly, if somebody’s been around another person that they know has had mumps and they develop an illness like this, that’s certainly something to be concerned about.”
The mumps can be prevented by practices like careful hand washing but the vaccination is the best preventative method out there, according the KDHE.
“Vaccination is one of the, still one of the best strategies we have to prevent the mumps and other vaccine-preventable diseases so it’s important that people are aware of their immunization status and that if they have not been vaccinated against mumps, they need to contact their physician or their local health department to do so,” Hunt said.