Mumps cases on the rise in Nebraska

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The number of mumps cases in Nebraska this year is more than triple the amount in 2018.

The number of mumps cases in Nebraska has more than tripled this year from 2018. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Updated information from DHHS showed they've received 67 reported mumps cases so far this year. That's up from the 30 cases reported at the end of August.

That large number correlates with a trend health officials have noticed over the past decade; an increase in the number of people not vaccinating their kids for disease like the mumps and measles.

"What was one of the greatest advancements in public health is now starting to slip a little bit in the mind's of some people," said Dorrann Hultman, community health services coordinator at South Heartland District Health Department.

All kids going into kindergarten are required to get vaccinated in Nebraska. They receive two doses of the MMR, or mumps-measles-rubella, vaccine. One is between 12 and 15 months and the second is between four and six years old.

MMR immunization rates in the state for kindergartners are 96 percent. For seventh graders it's at almost 98 percent.

The numbers are higher in Adams, Clay, Knuckles and Webster Counties. Reports show 97 percent of kindergartners are vaccinated, and 99 percent of seventh graders are vaccinated. There's been three cases of mumps reported in the area.

While these numbers are high, they show more kids are missing out on that first round of vaccinations.

"As we get further out from people actually witnessing the diseases and the consequences of the disease, then I think our society tends to forget just how severe of a problem it is, or was," Hultman said.

Mumps is a very contagious viral infection that causes swelling of the glands in the face and neck. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, and pain while chewing.

It can be life threatening if not treated.

"It can take out large groups of people all at once," said Zachary Frey, family medicine physician at Hastings Family Practice.

Frey said your best defense against the mumps is to get vaccinated.

Frey said when you get both shots, they're 88 percent effective. Just getting one in 78 percent effective.

Even though the vaccine isn't full poof, Frey said it'll significantly decrease your chances of getting the mumps. He said even if you do catch the disease, the outbreak will be much less severe.

"It'll help protect your child from obtaining these diseases like measles and mumps, but it'll also help protect the community that they live in, and people who may be elderly, or your next door neighbor who has cancer and can't get the vaccine, or who's immune system doesn't work as well," Frey said.

You can be exempt from getting vaccinated for MMR if you are allergic to the vaccine, have an immune deficiency, or other medical reason that would cause harm if you got the vaccine. Some can also be excused for religious reasons. Doctors recommend if you can get the MMR vaccine, you should get it.

Frey said if you have any questions regarding vaccines you should contact your health provider.

Hultman said if you can't afford vaccines, you should call the Southern Heartland District Health Department at (402) 462-6211 to see what they can do for you.