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Mumps Outbreak Strikes New Castle; State Opens Coronavirus Call Center

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Delaware Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, at podium, announced that a coronavirus hotline is now operational. On left: DHSS Cabinet Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker.

Delawareans looking for answers about the global coronavirus crisis can now call a designated state hotline and speak with an expert. 

The call center’s launch comes as health officials separately announced an outbreak of mumps that has impacted as many as nine school-age children in New Castle. 

The call center number is 1-866-408-1899, and the line will be open 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Individuals can also send queries by email: DPHCall@delaware.gov 

The State Health Operations Center call center in Smyrna will take questions from the public, schools, medical providers, state agencies and community organizations. Officials said they had been receiving “a tremendous number of calls” on coronavirus and the new dedicated line would allow “key epidemiology staff to better focus on the job of monitoring returning travelers.”

 

No cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Delaware although one patient’s test results are currently pending.

On Monday, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced their Smyrna lab is now testing for the disease, which can produce results in a matter of hours. Tests for two patients in Kent County, the first run at the lab, were negative. To date, there have been eight Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) whose results have been negative.

There are now 95,000 cases of confirmed coronavirus across the globe, including 148 in the U.S. 

There are five confirmed cases of mumps among students at William Penn High School

Seven confirmed cases of Mumps in New Castle County

Separately, the DPH said today it has identified seven confirmed cases and two probable cases of mumps involving students in New Castle County. The confirmed cases involve five individuals at William Penn High School, one individual at George Read Middle School, and one individual at St. Georges Technical High School. The state declined to provide further details citing privacy.

Mumps is an acute viral infection spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or talking, sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others, and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.  Mumps can be prevented by vaccine.

 

Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, body aches, loss of appetite and swelling of parotid salivary gland(s) — glands on the insides of the cheeks, the floor of the mouth, and under the tongue.  Mumps symptoms could develop from twelve days to 25 days after exposure. 

DPH says they are working with the impacted schools and school districts since cases were first identified to limit the spread of illness and to identify any other potential cases. The schools notified their communities of the positive cases and potential exposure to mumps and provided recommended guidance to families.

DPH advises any student or any member of the household who has symptoms or develops symptoms should be kept at home. In addition, it is recommended that parents of children who may have been exposed to mumps contact their child’s primary care provider. Children with suspected or confirmed mumps should stay home for five days after the onset of parotitis (gland swelling), or as directed by their primary care provider.  

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that a substantial increase in the number of mumps outbreaks and outbreak-associated cases have occurred in the United States since late 2015.

More on Mumps from DPH:

As an ongoing preventive measure, it is recommended that individuals follow good hand washing practices. Parents are encouraged to review the immunization records for their children and make sure they are up to date on recommended vaccines, including the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, and to contact their child’s primary care provider with any questions.  

Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. However, mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. Complications can include:

  • inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
  • inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis)
  • deafness

 

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Teens and adults who did not get the recommended MMR vaccines per the above schedule should be vaccinated so they are up to date.

It is possible for someone to get the mumps even after they have been vaccinated, however, that is not to say the mumps vaccine is ineffective. MMR vaccine is safe and effective. A person with two doses of MMR vaccine has about an 88% reduction in risk for mumps; a person with one dose has a 78% reduction in risk for mumps. In addition, disease symptoms are milder and complications are less frequent in vaccinated people. Also, high vaccination coverage helps to limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks, therefore it is still very important to be up to date on MMR vaccine. 

Individuals with questions should contact their primary care provider or the Division of Public Health at 1-888-295-5156.

Mumps is a reportable disease in Delaware. Health care providers should promptly report suspected cases of mumps, and confirmed cases, to the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (OIDE) at 302-744-4990 (normal business hours) or 1-888-295-5156 (outside of normal business hours), fax to 302-223-1540, or email  reportdisease@delaware.gov . Providers are asked not to wait for laboratory test results to return before reporting.

 

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