Mumps cases reaching record-highs in Colorado

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DENVER -- According to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, 49 mumps cases have been reported in 2017.

Colorado averages 5.6 mumps cases per year. That number spiked to 17 in 2016 and has reached nearly 50 through the first two months of 2017.

“If you think you have mumps or you’re diagnosed with mumps you need to stay home and away from people for five days,” said Lisa Miller with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

State health officials are investigating the outbreak, and the number of reported cases could rise as more information is gathered.

Mumps is spread by direct human-to-human contact through mucus or saliva. Symptoms are similar to a common cold for the first few days.

“Usually about two to three days in they’ll develop big swelling of the parotid glands, which are the salivary glands that sit right in front of the ears,” said Dr. Alice Liu at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

Liu said the best defense for the disease is immunization.

“We know the MMR vaccine works really well,” she said. “In the pre- and post-MMR vaccine era, we saw a 99 percent drop in the mumps rate. So we know it works well.”

It’s recommended everyone get an MMR vaccine at about 1 year old, and then again at 4-6 years old. But with the spike in mumps nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering a third vaccine boost.