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Livingston County reports two mumps cases

A mumps virus particle is depicted in this illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alissa Eckert
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A mumps virus particle is depicted in this illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two people in Livingston County have come down with mumps, according to health officials there.

Both live in the county, and both were fully vaccinated, said Kathy Root, who directs patient services for the county health department.

Two vaccinated people in one county contracting the disease is statistically unlikely, but still possible, Root said.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective,” said Root. “But we have to keep vaccination levels high if we want to prevent further spread.”

People who are fully vaccinated are about nine times less likely to get mumps than if they're unvaccinated, but close and prolonged contact with someone who has mumps increases the odds of getting the disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most people who come down with mumps “recover completely” within two weeks, the CDC says, but severe complications happen in a small but significant minority of patients.

“Inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, swelling of the brain, deafness, spontaneous abortion, sometimes death -- it’s serious,” said Root, describing some of those complications.

Mumps cases dropped by 99% in the United States after the current vaccine practice was adopted in 1989. But along with measles, outbreaks of mumps have been on the rise over the last decade.

Livingston County had no mumps cases between 2008 and 2014, according to data from the state health department. There were 26 cases in 2016, which Root said were related to an outbreak of the disease at SUNY Geneseo.

In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available from the state health department, the county had one confirmed case.

High vaccination rates help limit the size, duration, and severity of mumps outbreaks, the CDC says.

The Livingston County health department is now working to track where the two people who have mumps went and who they’ve been in contact with over the last couple of weeks while they were contagious.

If the health department finds people who have been in contact with the two sick patients and have not been vaccinated, “We encourage vaccination,” Root said. “We want to mitigate the spread of the disease.”

Brett was the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.
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