Adults, adolescents hardest hit by mumps

The majority of Hawaii’s recent mumps cases have occurred in adults and adolescents, the state Department of Health said Friday, bucking a notion the disease most commonly affects young children.

The DOH did not provide an exact breakdown but said most of Hawaii’s recent cases have been reported in residents ages 20-40 and youngsters ages 10 and older.

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Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division, said the “common denomination” has been “exposure to some type of gathering, whether school, work, church, family gathering or other social event.”

The number of mumps cases in Hawaii has steadily climbed in recent months. The DOH said the ongoing outbreak is considered “by far the worst in several decades for Hawaii.”

As of Thursday, there were 770 reported cases statewide, which includes 108 in Hawaii County. At least three of those have been reported in public schools including Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School, Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School in Hilo, and Naalehu Elementary School.

The state typically has fewer than 10 cases per year.

Forty-eight other states and the District of Columbia have reported mumps infections since 2017. Washington, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and New York also have seen more than 300 cases in the past year.

The DOH advises people to get an outbreak dose of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, particularly those who live, work or socialize regularly in crowded settings.

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The department also recommends residents stay home when sick and to consider methods of “social distancing,” such as avoiding crowded settings and gatherings, and not hugging or kissing when greeting others.

Additional information about mumps can be found on the DOH website, http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/advisories/mumps.

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