The rate of new mumps cases in Kansas and Douglas County has declined, but state and local medical professionals are wary of saying the end of the monthslong outbreak is near.
"State cases overall are declining so we hope the end is in sight, but we're also concerned about school starting up and people being in close quarters," said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
On Thursday, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department reported two new mumps cases, bringing the total for this year to 313. Last week at this time the total was 311. Statewide there have been 858 cases.
In Lawrence, thousands of college students have returned to Kansas University, and college-age students have been especially susceptible to the disease. The health department has been working closely with KU's Watkins Student Health Center and other staff members to educate students about what to do to help prevent the mumps.
"KU is doing a good job working with incoming freshmen and with the housing department," said health department spokeswoman Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin. "They've put together fliers and continue to talk to students and their parents."
- New cases lead to warnings about mumps (03-06-07)
- Mumps cases may increase with KU's start (08-19-06)
- Mumps cases in county reach a record level (06-15-06)
- Mumps cases on rise (06-02-06)
- County announces total of 260 mumps cases (05-27-06)
- KU mumps cases climb; state total tops 600 (05-19-06)
- Mumps cases increase (04-14-06)
- Two air travelers suspected in mumps epidemic (04-13-06)
- Mumps cases on rise (04-11-06)
Students and others are urged to get mumps vaccinations. The disease is spread through coughing and sneezing. If you have symptoms that include inflammation of the glands close to the jaw and a fever, stay home from work or school but see a physician, KDHE says.
Douglas County health experts also are keeping a close eye on the recent outbreak of cryptosporidium cases in child care facilities. There have been a total of five cases reported this month. There have been no new cases since Tuesday, Goodwin said.
"We're crossing our fingers," Goodwin said. "They are in day cares right now and we don't have anything in the pools. If people are sick they should not go swimming."
The health department also has confirmed four cases of giardiasis, the latest one to be confirmed was announced Friday.
Cryptosporidium and giardiasis are both parasites that cause diarrhea. They are easily spread from person to person.
Good hygiene prevents these diseases
How are cryptosporidium and giardiasis spread? ¢ The diseases are spread by fecal-oral contact. ¢ By consuming contaminated food or water. How do you prevent cryptosporidium or giardiasis? ¢ Practice good hygiene. ¢ Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet and before handling or eating food. ¢ Wash hands after every diaper change. ¢ Protect others by not swimming if you have diarrhea and stay out of the pool for two weeks after symptoms are gone. ¢ Avoid swallowing water in pools, lakes and rivers. Source: Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department