Another Pierce County school district has been notified by health officials about students diagnosed with the mumps.
Fife Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Alfano sent a message to Fife district families Wednesday saying Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department notified the district there were three confirmed cases of mumps at Discovery Primary School, Columbia Junior High School and Fife High School.
After the message to parents went out, Alfano said, district officials were informed of a fourth student with mumps at Endeavour Intermediate School. He said his message to parents would be updated to reflect that Thursday.
Alfano said the district learned each student contracted the disease outside of school.
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The Fife district cases follow recent announcements by health officials of two mumps cases in the Puyallup School District. Those involve a student at Edgemont Junior High School and another at Northwood Elementary School.
Mumps, once a common childhood disease before vaccinations, is a highly contagious viral illness easily spread in school settings where students are in close contact. It’s best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw — the result of swollen salivary glands.
Alfano said Fife district officials are notifying families at the affected schools who do not have current vaccinations. He said the district will inform families with unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children that their students will need to remain home until they either get the needed vaccinations or the danger of contracting the disease has passed. That’s the protocol recommended by the state Department of Health.
Health care providers are required to report cases of mumps to local health departments because the disease can cause serious complications, especially in adults.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says complications can include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). It also can result in deafness. Inflammation can occur in the testicles in males who have reached puberty, or in the ovaries or breast tissue of females.
Those most likely to get the disease include babies younger than 1, older unvaccinated children and adults born after 1956 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps.
Vaccination can help prevent the disease or lessen its symptoms. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is administered to children at the age of 12 months. A second dose is recommended between the ages of 4 and 6.
Alfano said Fife officials will continue to work with the health department. Custodial staff members at each school are taking extra care to disinfect classrooms and common areas, and extra sanitizing supplies will be provided at each school.
Recent mumps cases in the region started with an outbreak in South King County. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department identified the first Pierce County probable mumps cases Dec. 9.
ALL ABOUT MUMPS
Mumps is best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Up to 10 percent of teenage boys and men can experience swelling of testicles.
Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Children need two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to attend school.
Other protections: Avoid contact with infected people, wash hands with soap and water, avoid sharing eating utensils or cups.
Learn more from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at tpchd.org.
Source: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department