Mumps outbreak reported in Denver

Posted at 11:29 AM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 18:16:45-05

A mumps outbreak has prompted alerts to healthcare providers across Colorado.

7 cases have been confirmed in Colorado. Usually we see less than half of that. 

"We usually see about 2.5 cases per year (in the city)," said Dr. Heather Young, an infectious disease physician at Denver Health Medical Center who serves as the hospital's epidemiologist. "This is certainly an increase over what we would usually see."

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Tuesday issued a warning to doctors and nurses to keep an eye out for more potential patients. While most mumps cases are mild, some can have serious complications.

Investigators believe the Colorado cases are linked to a mumps outbreak in Iowa.

"The source of the infection is thought to be a person who recently moved to Colorado from Iowa and reported symptoms of fever and bilateral swelling under his ears that extended under his mandibles during early January," CDPHE said in its bulletin.

Dr. Young says a group of adults were seen for mumps at Denver Health Urgent Care Clinic earlier this month. Three health care professionals caught the disease, even though they were vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.

"It's about 90-percent effective in preventing mumps but not 100-percent," she said. 

Mumps is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Nationwide, in 2015 more than 1,000 cases were reported. This year there have been nearly 70.

"Generally we say if you stand within 3 feet of someone for over a minute, that when you potentially could be getting it," said Dr. young.