Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TOP STORY >> Mumps case at Cabot school

A staff member at Cabot Middle School North has been diagnosed with mumps.

Students and their parents were notified Monday, urging students to stay home if they’re sick. They were given information about the contagious disease from the Arkansas Department of Health, which recommends vaccinations.

“Our No. 1 goal is to make sure this does not spread and that the rest of our students, staff and faculty remain healthy. That’s why the district is being proactive and communicating as much information as possible with our students, staff, parents and patrons,” according to the Cabot School District’s announcement.

With more than 2,500 cases, Arkansas is among the states with the highest rates for mumps. Most states report fewer than 20 cases of mumps. Four states, including Louisiana, have none.

Mumps usually begins with flu-like symptoms often followed by brain infections, pancreatitis, permanent deafness and painful testicular swelling that can cause infertility. It is rarely fatal.

Adults are more likely than children to become very sick with mumps.

Mumps spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. There is no treatment for mumps, and it can cause long-term health problems.

More people are declining to vaccinate their children because of religious beliefs and philosophical views that claim, without evidence, that vaccines are not safe or effective.

Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman told The Leader on Tuesday this is the first case of mumps or any other contagious disease he can recall in the district.

“My recommendations (to parents and students) come directly from the health-care professionals that deal with this on a daily basis,” Thurman said.

“The Arkansas Department of Health recommends first and foremost to receive the MMR vaccine. Unvaccinated people are nine times more likely to get mumps than people with two doses of the MMR vaccine. The remaining recommendations include frequent hand washing and staying home if you are sick,” he said.

Thurman said school nurses can help parents make appointments to receive the MMR vaccine at the Cabot Health Department.

The state Health Department recommends students who have not been vaccinated for MMR and have been exposed to mumps at school should be absent for 26 days from the date of exposure until the outbreak has ended.

Not in this case though. “Since the adult (with mumps) was not in direct daily contact with any one group of students, we were not directed by ADH to exclude those students at CMSN that had not been immunized. If this had been a student, we could have been directed by ADH to excluded non-immunized students from school for a minimum of 26 days,” Thurman said.

The district’s letter to parents said, “The Arkansas Department of Health requires an individual with confirmed mumps to stay out of school until five days after they are no longer showing symptoms,”

The school district’s alert to parents reminds them to be aware of flu-like symptoms in their children that last 7 to 10 days: Fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, swollen glands under the ears or jaw.

“Custodial staff continues to be aggressive in sanitizing all surface areas that come in contact with our students. Most importantly, we are encouraging constant hand washing at all of our schools. Again, we want to stress if an individual is sick, please do not come to school,” the letter to parents said.

“If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local doctor, or our school nurses are always happy to assist in any way,” it continued.

“The best way to protect against mumps is to get the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine also protects against measles and rubella,” according to Health Department information Cabot students received Monday.

“The Arkansas Depart-ment of Health is asking that all children and adults get up-to-date with their MMR vaccine,” it said.

These are the recommended doses of the MMR vaccine:

• Children younger than 6 years of age need one dose of MMR vaccine at age 12 through 15 months and a second dose of MMR vaccine at age 4 through 6 years.

• If your child attends a preschool, where there is a mumps case, or if you live in a household with many people, your child should receive their second dose of MMR vaccine right away, even if they are not yet 4 years old.

• The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• Your children age 7 through 18 years need two doses of MMR vaccine, if they have not received them already. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• If you are an adult born in 1957 or later and you have not had the MMR vaccine already, you need at least one dose.

• If you live in a household with many people or if you travel internationally, you need a second dose of MMR vaccine.

• The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• Adults born before 1957 are considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to get the MMR vaccine.

The Health Department said mumps is mild in most children but can cause serious, lasting problems, including:

• Meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord)

• Deafness (temporary or permanent)

• Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)

• Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males who have reached their puberty.

• Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty.