Mumps Outbreak Hits New York, New Jersey
Boy, 11, Got Mumps While in U.K.; 1,521 Sickened as Outbreak Continues
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 11, 2010 - An ongoing mumps outbreak has sickened 1,521 people in New York
and New Jersey.
"Patient Zero" was an 11-year-old boy who got infected with mumps during a
summer visit to Great Britain. He came down with symptoms while at a summer
camp for Orthodox Jewish boys; campers and staff then carried the disease back
to their communities.
Nineteen people have been hospitalized; no one has died. Scores of people
have developed complications, including 55 cases of swollen testicles, five
cases of pancreatitis, two cases of meningitis, one case of temporary deafness, one case of Bell's
palsy, and one case of inflamed ovaries.
The infections happened despite high coverage with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Among patients
ages 7 to 18 -- the age group that had the most cases -- 85% of patients had
received the two recommended MMR
This doesn't mean the MMR vaccine isn't working, says epidemiologist
Kathleen Gallagher, DSc, MPH, the CDC's team leader for measles, mumps, and
"Two doses of mumps vaccine is believed to be 90% to 95% effective,"
Gallagher tells WebMD. "But that means people can still get mumps. If the
vaccine is 90% effective and 100 people are exposed to mumps, 10 will get the
In the U.K., the source of the outbreak, MMR vaccination rates remain low
due to fears that the vaccine might be linked to autism. The small, 12-year-old
study that spurred those fears has been
retracted by the journal that published it and disavowed by 10 of its 13
authors. The doctors who did not disavow the study have been rebuked by U.K.
authorities and face revocation of their medical licenses.
The U.S. mumps outbreak is the worst since an 11-state outbreak sickened
2,597 people from December 2005 to May 2006.
Over three-fourths of the cases have been in males, as the outbreak is
spreading mostly in Orthodox Jewish schools for boys. Fewer than 3% of the
cases have occurred outside Orthodox Jewish communities, mostly in people with
close community contact.
New York City -- mainly Brooklyn -- accounts for 44% of the mumps
cases. An additional 24% are in Orange County, N.Y.; 20% are in Rockland
County, N.Y.; and 10% are in four New Jersey counties. Although the summer camp
was in Sullivan County, N.Y., the disease is not spreading there.
Because of continued spread, health authorities working with communities in
Orange County are giving schoolchildren a third dose of the MMR vaccine.
Gallagher says it will be two or three months before it's known whether the
Mumps starts just like most other viral diseases, with fever, tiredness, muscle aches, and/or loss of
appetite. The classic sign of mumps -- swollen salivary glands that make a
person look like a chipmunk -- don't appear right away. About half of people
infected with the mumps virus don't get noticeable symptoms.