We are continuing to receive daily updates from the Department of Health concerning the mumps outbreak in Arkansas. The Department of Health is reporting that 43 workplaces, 3 school districts, and 5 colleges/vocational schools have now reported cases.


As of December 1, there were a total of 1,764 cases reported. The counties with reported case include Benton, Carroll, Crittenden, Faulkner, Howard, Hot Spring, Madison, Pulaski, Saline, Sebastian, and Washington.


Arkansas is one of 6 states that has reported more than 100 cases this year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Mumps is a viral illness that is transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets or saliva from an infected person. It is best known for painful, swollen salivary glands that show up as puffy cheeks and swollen jaw.


The majority of cases in Arkansas are among school aged children. Therefore the Department of Health is requiring any student who has a Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine exemption to be excluded from school for 26 days from the date of exposure or for the duration of the outbreak, whichever is longer.


Throughout this outbreak, 90% to 95% of school-aged children and 30% to 40% of adults involved in the outbreak have been fully immunized. The vaccine is not perfect. Two doses of the MMR shot are about 88% effective at preventing the mumps. That means that if you have 100 people who are fully vaccinated, 88 of them will be fully protected. The remaining 12 will still be vulnerable to mumps. If it were not for the vaccine, however, we would be seeing many, many more cases of the mumps. Also, we have only seen a few cases with complications such as swelling of the brain. This tells health professionals that even though some vaccinated individuals are still getting the mumps, they are experiencing mild disease. The vaccine remains the best protection we have against the mumps.


The complete list of schools with reported cases along with more information about prevention can be found on the Arkansas Department of Health website www.healthy.arkansas.gov .