Emerging mumps outbreak in King County

UPDATE (1/13/17)

Current mumps case counts in King County are now available on Public Health’s website. The case counts are updated on weekdays after 3 pm (except on government holidays).

Mumps cases for the entire state are reported on the Washington State Department of Health’s website.


  • If you or your child has symptoms of mumps (fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen cheeks or jaw), call your healthcare provider. Stay home from work and school until five days after swelling in the cheeks or jaw started because you are contagious up until that point.
  • “The most effective way to reduce the risk of getting mumps and its complications is to be up to date with MMR vaccinations,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Vaccination provides very good protection, but not 100%.  MMR vaccine is on average 88% protective for mumps after two doses,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “88% protection is very good and vaccination is the most important step to protect children and adults against mumps, which can be a painful experience, and its uncommon serious complications including meningitis and, inflammation of the brain, testes, ovaries, and other organs.

“Because some people do not get lasting protection from the vaccine and mumps spreads easily from person to person, outbreaks can still occur in vaccinated populations. But, if unvaccinated, many, many, more people would become ill.”


ORIGINAL POST (11/29/16)

Public Health – Seattle & King County has identified three confirmed cases of mumps in King County, all in children aged 8-13 in Auburn. Eleven additional cases from multiple King County cities are currently under investigation. The three confirmed cases are within the same family and are all recovering.

“To reduce the risk of becoming ill, everyone should be sure they are fully vaccinated against mumps with the MMR vaccine,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for King County. “If you or your child develops symptoms of mumps, please see a health care provider, even if you have been vaccinated.”

What is mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw. Most people recover from mumps in a few weeks. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications that may require hospitalization, including inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and deafness. Up to 30% of people with mumps infection will have no symptoms.

How is mumps spread?12-woman-sneezing

A person with mumps can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It can also be spread by sharing cups or eating utensils, and by touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Who is at higher risk of getting mumps*?

  • Infants who are too young to receive MMR vaccine (under 1 year of age).
  • Children over 1 year of age who are not fully vaccinated: Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12-15 months of age, and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not previously had mumps disease.
  • If you are unsure whether you or your child have been vaccinated, please contact your health care provider.

* Note: Persons born before 1957 probably had mumps as children and are usually considered immune.

How to prevent mumps22-teenager-vaccine

 What to do if you have symptoms

  • If you or your child has symptoms of mumps (fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen cheeks or jaw), call your healthcare provider.
  • Stay home and away from other people and from public settings until you or your child has been evaluated by a healthcare provider.

What Public Health is doing

Investigation of infectious diseases is one of the essential services provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County. We will continue to identify and investigate any additional cases of mumps. We are also alerting healthcare providers and working with schools and communities in King County to provide education about preventing mumps. Increased cases of mumps have been identified nationwide, so we are sharing information and coordinating with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health departments in other states.

For more information about mumps: http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html


Posted by

I am a risk communications specialist at Public Health - Seattle & King County.

20 thoughts on “Emerging mumps outbreak in King County

  1. Let’s hear more about the demographics. Where are the children from? Are they refugees? The only information here is that mumps requires vaccination. There’s a bigger picture here. Mumps doesn’t just travel on the wind, come from the soil etc. It has to come from someone from a distant land that doesn’t have the same standard of living.

    Quarantine refugees for 3 months to prevent this from happening.

      1. The only thing keeping the viruses in circulation are the vaccines. The unvaccinated don’t spontaneously generate the virus. The shedding vaccinated spread it.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It is easy for any of us to acquire diseases if we travel overseas. In fact, all refugees arriving in King County are screened for diseases before and after arrival.

      1. The virus use in mumps vaccine is a weakened strain that does not cause outbreaks. Mumps vaccine has been very successful in decreasing circulation of mumps virus in the US from the pre-vaccine era when mumps caused tens of thousands of cases EVERY MONTH and was a major cause of meningitis and encephalitis.

      2. Meredith, the poster above, “Bill Grates” is a troll looking to stir up controversy. Please don’t let such nonsense interrupt the sharing of good information.

  2. Actually, it would appear that in this case the 3 folks from the same family were all vaccinated. Sometimes it just doesn’t work people. Let’s not be so quick to start pointing fingers and finding scary “others”.

  3. I just called your health department and talked to epidemiology, I asked if all the children in the out break were vaccinated. When measles was going around my childrens vaccine status was disclosed by the local health department. Even though my children never came into direct contact or even the 4 hour window for contact they both got measles. Now my kids can’t be vaccinated due to allergies so it is a valuable piece of information to KNOW if any unvaccinated people have come down with the mumps. Not only was the health department rude the lady was condescending and uninformative. She raised her voice refused to answers my one question and hung up on me. It would seem to me that she is paid by tax payer dollars and when asked questions she should answer nicely not yell and hang up the phone.

    1. We’re sorry to hear you had this experience and we will follow up with staff. Please email your contact information to me at meredith.li-vollmer@kingcounty.gov and I will forward it to a manager in our Communicable Disease Epidemiology unit who would be happy to help answer your questions.

      We are continuing to investigate new cases and will update this blog at 3 pm (12/5/16) with new cases and their vaccination status.

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for your question. We forwarded it to Dr. Jeff Duchin, our Health Officer, and here is his reply: “At this time, we have not observed a higher than expected incidence of mumps among vaccinated persons (see our blog about mumps vaccine effectiveness and why cases occur in vaccinated persons: https://publichealthinsider.com/2016/12/05/mumps-outbreaks-why-do-we-care-and-is-the-vaccine-working/
      ). The effectiveness of the vaccine has been evaluated in a number of studies over many years after the vaccine was licensed and that are not done by Merck.” – J.D.

      1. There is a larger outbreak in Arkansas, and they suspect that there has been a strain replacement, where the vaccine has suppressed the included strain, but that another strain is moving into the niche. Has there been any genotyping to confirm that the cases are actually of the some strain as that contained in the MMR?

        “In Northwest Arkansas, and across the country, people are getting their MMR booster shot to protect themselves from the mumps, but doctors say that shot, like the flu shot of 2014, isn’t a match for the mumps that they’re seeing.

        “It’s not turning a corner; it is continuing to get worse,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, ADH’s state epidemiologist.”

        “We are actually to the point that we are worried that this vaccine may indeed not be protecting against the strain of mumps that is circulating as well as it could,” Haselow said, explaining the ADH knows the vaccine is working somewhat, because more people haven’t been infected. And those who are infected, aren’t as sick as they could be.”


  4. I see that today’s update reports 61% of cases as up-to-date on the MMR. I was wondering what percentage of cases are in people with unknown vaccination status and what percentage of cases are in individuals verified to have never been vaccinated with MMR? Thanks.

    1. Hi Connie,
      As of 12/9, 67% of cases are reporting as up-to-date on MMR vaccine. 28% have unknown vaccination status and 6% are listed as not up-to-date.

      1. It would be interesting to know if these patient’t were vaccinated the second time with the newer MMRV instead of the plain MMR vaccine. The MMRV was approved in 2005. Also a lot of these patient’s are from the same families. Did they get their vaccines as recommended? UTD does not mean they actually followed the guidelines, it means they got their second vaccination. Do the parents have immunity? or maybe there is something in their genetic make up that doesn’t allow them to be immune by the vaccine. Did all of them get vaccinated by the same batch of vaccines? I with the CDC was better at informing us so we could actually work on prevention….

    1. Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now, John. We did get two specimens from people associated with this outbreak where genotyping was completed. Both are genotype G.

      Again, sorry that I lost track of your comment in this thread!

  5. Meredith,
    Thank you for replying to my question back in December. I see on the updated mumps page, that as of 2/6/17, 61.5% of cases are reported as up-to-date on MMR vaccine. I was wondering if you had the updated numbers as far as how many cases are in unvaccinated individuals and how many are unknown vaccination status. Spokane Regional Health has been posting the numbers in each category, and it’s been interesting to see the data.
    Thanks again!

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