Friday, February 19, 2010

More Than 1,500 Affected in NY, NJ Mumps Outbreak

From Reuters Health Information

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) Feb 11 - An outbreak of mumps that started in a summer camp last June has sickened more than 1,500 people in New York and New Jersey, state and federal health officials said on Thursday.

The outbreak is the biggest in the United States since 2006, when more than 6,000 people became infected, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its weekly report on death and disease.

School-age children in orthodox Jewish communities in New York have been hard hit. Officials said the group had high vaccination rates, but some had not been vaccinated or had only received one dose of the mumps vaccine.

The New York City Department of Health this week urged young Jewish adults to get vaccinated unless they knew they had been fully vaccinated in the past.

"Mumps can lead to serious complications in people who are not vaccinated, especially adults," said Dr. Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner for immunization.

Widespread vaccination with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine vastly cut the number of U.S. mumps cases to fewer than 500 in the early 2000s.

But concerns that the vaccine could cause autism, based on a discredited study that was retracted this month, prompted some parents not to protect their children.

Mumps made a resurgence in parts of Europe last year with outbreaks in Britain, the Balkans and Moldova.

The current outbreak appears to have started with an 11-year-old boy who returned from a trip to Britain in June and then attended a summer camp where he infected others. The illness spread as campers returned home.

As of January 29, 1,521 cases had been reported, almost two thirds among people aged 7 to 18. Nineteen people needed hospitalization, but none had died. Three quarters of those infected were male.

About 88% of those who reported their vaccination status had received at least one dose of vaccine, and three quarters of those infected had been given two doses.

The mumps virus can mutate, so people who have had only one or even two doses of vaccine remain vulnerable.

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