Archive for Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Lawrence sees mumps surge

Health authorities confirm three new cases

April 5, 2006


In 1988, Douglas County was the center of one of the biggest epidemics of mumps in recent American history. Now officials have a wary eye on a new outbreak.

Three new local mumps cases were confirmed Tuesday by health authorities, bringing the total number to nine in recent weeks. That doesn't approach the late-'80s epidemic of 269 cases in and around Lawrence, but it doubles the normal annual statewide numbers.

The local diagnoses might be related to an outbreak in Iowa, where 300 people have contracted the illness since early March.

"We're in the process of looking at whether these are the same as those cases in Iowa, if it's connected to that strain," said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. "With the mobile society we have today, it's easy for those cases in Iowa to affect neighboring states."

The cases announced Tuesday:

¢ One laboratory-confirmed case in a 19-year-old Kansas University student.

¢ One probable case in a second 19-year-old KU student.

"The student with the confirmed case tested positive over spring break while at home in Illinois, has since recovered and returned to campus," Dr. Patricia Denning, of KU's Student Health Services, said in a written statement. "We are waiting for test results for the second student, who is under a doctor's supervision."

¢ One probable case in a "school-age child." The Lawrence school district on Tuesday said the child was a student at New York School.

Dr. Christopher Penn at Lawrence Memorial Hospital said Tuesday he had been involved in some initial diagnoses.

"They're doing fine," he said of the mumps patients.

Hospital uncommon

Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands that is passed through saliva and causes swelling in the jaw, as well as headaches and fever. Health officials recommend frequent hand-washing and other hygienic measures to prevent its spread.

In rare cases, the virus can cause meningitis and encephalitis in victims. Usually, however, it causes more discomfort than danger.

"It's a viral illness, and for those who are experiencing the discomfort we wouldn't want to minimize it," said Lola Russell, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "But hospitalizations are uncommon."

The Iowa outbreak is similar to a strain of the virus that peaked during 2005 in the United Kingdom, Russell said. Officials don't know why it appeared in the U.S., nor why it is spreading.

A total of 17 cases were diagnosed in Kansas during a 10-year period ending in 2004.

Vials of the mumps vaccine are displayed at the Douglas County Health Department. Three new cases of the mumps in Douglas County were announced Tuesday, bringing the total number to nine in recent weeks.

Vials of the mumps vaccine are displayed at the Douglas County Health Department. Three new cases of the mumps in Douglas County were announced Tuesday, bringing the total number to nine in recent weeks.

"Diseases tend to be cyclical, and if they've been silent awhile it's not uncommon for them to pop up for a year or two before receding again," Watson said.

Not 100 percent

State law requires children to receive a mumps-measles-rubella vaccination in their first year, and officials urge a second by kindergarten. Most colleges, including KU, require incoming students to have the second shot.

But the vaccine, officials said, is only 95 percent effective. And Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin, with the Douglas County Health Department, said it appeared that the local students had received the second shot.

"There is that small percentage that you could still get it, because these vaccines are not 100 percent effective," she said.

Barbara Schnitker, director of nursing for the Douglas County Health Department, was part of the team that battled the last big mumps outbreak here between October 1988 and April 1989. She doesn't want to see a repeat.

"I think it just started wearing itself out," she said of why that outbreak ended. "The prime months tend to be winter and spring, so as we got into spring, it just ended."


neopolss 11 years, 7 months ago

There is something about people in this town who don't heed common sense advice when it comes to contagious diseases. I had to go get my boy from daycare here because someone (knowingly) brought their child to care with the chicken pox. What was worse to me - I was the only parent who saw an urgency to retrieve my child. The rest stayed. The same thing happened when one came down with the flu. I don't get it at all, but there's some common sense lacking around here.

blessed3x 11 years, 7 months ago

Common sense lacking in Lawrence? No way!

Will wonders never cease?

As far as the mumps thing goes, I would imagine Lawrence has a larger than normal percentage that believe the innoculations are bad (mercury or some such thing) and so refuse to take them. Connection?

Neopolss, as a father of three I believe you shouldn't live in fear of chicken pox. Getting them at 5 is MUCH better than over-protecting your child and having him get them at 35.

badger 11 years, 7 months ago


"But the vaccine, officials said, is only 95 percent effective. And Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin, with the Douglas County Health Department, said it appeared that the local students had received the second shot."

I guess that would be a 'no' on connection, then, wouldn't it? Add that to the fact that two of the infected cases are KU students, and not necessarily raised in Lawrence, and your statement is unfounded as well as ignorant of the basic facts printed in the article.

Everything I've read about the outbreak in Iowa says that, overwhelmingly, the affected folks have had the vaccine. It just fails sometimes.

Don't be quite so quick to rush to judgment about 'Lawrence people'.

gr 11 years, 7 months ago

It would be interesting compare who got the mumps and if they got the vaccine with the total vaccinated and then compare that ratio to 95%.

blessed, do you not think mercury is bad? Eli Lilly MSDS states: "Primary Physical and Health Hazards: Skin Permeable. Toxic. Mutagen. Irritant (eyes). Allergen. Nervous System and Reproductive Effects."

"Caution Statement: Thimerosal may enter the body through the skin, is toxic, alters genetic material, may be irritating to the eyes, and causes allergic reactions. Effects of exposure may include numbness of extremities, fetal changes, decreased offspring survival, and lung tissue changes." See:

Vaccinate your kid, because even though he may become a casualty (death or permanently "damaged"), it's for the service of the general public. If you are going to vaccinate your kid for harmless things like mumps and chickenpox, you should check out to see what adverse injuries he may be compensated for - or if any injury is compensated. Or, if you are able to look at raw data and format it, see what some other's injuries are,

neopolss, I do agree with blessed about over protecting your kid will only do harm. If you vaccinated him, why worry? If you didn't, then you should encourage him to get mumps and chickenpox as it is much better when he is young than old. Chickenpox and mumps is no big deal. Do you want your child to have lifelong immunity or give him a vaccine for temporary immunity with a 30 times greater risk of dieing from it when he's older. Or how about shingles?

Now, if you did vaccinate him, but don't think it does much good....why vaccinate?

SpeedRacer 11 years, 7 months ago

The child cares my kid went to sent them home if they were sick, but with most childhood diseases, they are contagious for days before they show symptoms. Inoculations are required before any kid can go to school, so I have no doubt that all Lawrence kids have been inoculated by the time they are in kindergarten, so I don't see your reasoning blessed3x. All of the news reports I have seen are that it is suspected that college students were exposed to the mumps in England and brought it back, possibly explaining the large number of college age people infected. Although they are saying that the innoculation is only 95% effective, it still seems like an awful large number of infections in innoculated people.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 7 months ago

What about those parents that have "pox parties"? A lot of parents, I would assume almost all of them, would prefer their child to get chicken pox as a kid and not have to worry about them getting them again for the rest of their lives.

towniejj 11 years, 7 months ago


Vaccinating kids against the chicken pox and other illnesses is not always the best. These types of viruses live in your body forever, and if you protect your child from contracting them at a young age then you are endangering them later because they can get shingles or chickenpox at a later age which is much more dangerous.

"Protecting" your child from every little illness will only make them have a weaker immune system in the long run. Their bodies won't be able to ward off viruses as well and then can develop very serious illnesses later.

We should encourage our children's immune systems to work and be able to protect them from these rather harmless childhood illnesses rather than raising children with weak immune systems.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 7 months ago

RonBurgandy, I just saw a headline about that today discouraging pox parties, but I can't remember where. Many doctors are apparently advising against pox parties.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 7 months ago

I am not sure that I would take my kids to one of those. I thought it was interesting that people would do that. It doesn't seem like to bad of an idea, but I am not fully aware of the risks that it would impose beyond just getting the vaccine or catching chicken pox normally.

mom_of_three 11 years, 7 months ago

My middle child was 2 years old and was exposed to chicken pox 5 times in 5 months before she actually broke out in spots, including contact with an older sibling, and daycare kids. But the youngest child was only exposed once, in preschool, when she developed spots.
By the time you pulled your kid from daycare, she was already exposed to the virus for over a week (incubation period) My children have had the mmr vaccine, and the updates. The chicken pox vaccine came out afterwards. I will take my chances with the vaccinations than the actual disease.

chzypoof1 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, you're all right that chicken pox and mumps are typically ok to get when you are a kid. That is still not a reason not to vaccinate your children.

There are these other diseases, like POLIO, that i'm sure you don't want your children/teens to get. There is a risk with ANY medication that you EVER take. You are short changing your children because of your new age beliefs. I find that fair.....If it weren't for vaccines, certain diseases, namely polio, would have been a lot worse in this country. Get over it

My wife runs a daycare. First sign of illness, including loose stool, excessive runny nose, etc, and the kids go home. No questions. Protecting your children from getting the flu AGAIN is different from "over protecting them"

assistant1234 11 years, 7 months ago

FYI, you can only get shingles if you have already had the chicken pox. In shingles the chicken pox virus "reawakens" in people later in life. You cannot catch shingles from someone who has it, but if you never had chicken pox you catch get chicken pox from a person with shingles. has some good info on both chicken pox and shingles.

Also, I just wanted to add that I question the effectiveness of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. I had all of my shots as a child and young adult and was told at age 28 that I had no immunity, and that this was rare. Now I am starting to wonder how "rare" it really is...

gr 11 years, 7 months ago

chzzy: "If it weren't for vaccines, certain diseases, namely polio, would have been a lot worse in this country."

I think we are talking about mumps and chickenpox. Nothing like polio. But, there is discussion as to if vaccines had anything to do with reducing polio. Now, about the only polio is from vaccines.

From webmd about chickenpox vaccine, "It keeps 85% of vaccinated kids from ever getting the illness." What, now we're down to 85% effectiveness?

trueninetiesgirl 11 years, 7 months ago

i had all my shots to and 23yrs later they made me take a new mmr ,after giving birth to my daughter. i was no longer protected from the first two i got as a child..

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

chzypoof1: Surely you understand the fear behind chicken herpes. (South Park reference for those who are confused).

neopolss 11 years, 7 months ago

blessed3x, I tend to agree, except that my child is five months old. Not exactly when you want to start introducing illnesses. I'd love to be less cautious, but flu can easily put a child that age in the hospital, something that I cannot easily afford.

outoftowner 11 years, 7 months ago

I have not had the chickenpox and neither had my son when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 6. His dr at Childrens Mercy suggested we both get vaccinated. With my second child, a chickenpox vaccine was mandatory before entering pre-school.

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