Cabot schools are likely to have more cases of mumps after a Cabot Middle School North staff member recently came down with the viral disease, which is easily preventable with the use of vaccines.
There are 2,642 cases of mumps in Arkansas right now, according to the state Health Department. An acceptable rate is a mere three or four cases. The outbreak began in northwest Arkansas last August and has since spread to much of the state.
It’s not surprising given Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country and one of the highest rates of mumps, a nasty illness that can cause glandular and testicular swelling, and in rare cases sterility and even death.
The disease is on the rise here and across the country due to a decline in vaccination rates as more and more parents are choosing to forgo vaccines for their children. It is an alarming trend that is driving outbreaks of mumps and other diseases that had been virtually eradicated.
Brown is considering reintroducing a bill to prohibit vaccine waivers.
“I do believe that religious and philosophical exemptions may be a luxury we cannot afford to continue to allow. I would have to look at the ‘research’ the anti-vaxers sent to me as well as the information from others who have been combating the vocal opposition before running a bill similar to the one I pre-filed for this session, and I would have to believe I would have public support before running that gauntlet again,” she said.
“I may look into doing a poll to find out how Arkansans feel about the exemptions. Just knowing that we have way more cases of mumps than we would ordinarily be expected to have is alarming. The questions that trouble me are 1) What outbreak are we going to have next? And 2) how long will this mumps epidemic continue? 3) Will it just wear itself out or keep on spreading beyond Arkansas’ borders? 4) When are we going to have an avoidable death?” Brown said.
She pointed out that almost all of the children in northwest Arkansas who contracted the mumps were actually vaccinated.
That type of clustering does seem to appear in affluent areas. In the Pulaski County Special School District, Maumelle High School and Maumelle Middle School each report 10 students, Sylvan Hills High has 15, while College Station, Harris and Cato elementary schools have none.