Mumps outbreak continues to grow in Arkansas

Many in Arkansas fearful of contracting disease

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The number of suspected mumps cases in Arkansas is growing. As of September 2, there were four confirmed and at least 48 suspected cases. Even though those cases are in northwest Arkansas schools, the concern is still spreading throughout Little Rock.

That outbreak has students without the disease staying at home. Arkansas's Department of Health warns parents to take advantage of a vaccine that can protect their child. That still makes some parents nervous.

Medical Director for Immunizations Jennifer Dillaha said vaccinations are key. "We are receiving reports of persons in Northwest Arkansas who have symptoms of mumps,” she added.

"In order to control the spread and decrease the opportunity for the mumps to spread then we need all of the children in the community to be vaccinated," said Dillaha.

Kristen Walbrup, a mother of three, is unsure if she will allow her youngest daughter to receive the vaccination after her oldest girl was rushed to the pediatrician after having received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Walbrup said, "When she was six months old the day she got vaccinated ran a 106 fever it was kind of a scary thing."

Central Arkansas schools require K through 12th grade students show proof of immunization. Students are eligible to get exemption for medical, philosophical or religious reasons. Those exemptions, however, may keep your kids at home.

Right now, kids with exemptions in Springdale schools dealing with mumps will have to stay home for 26 days unless they get the MMR vaccine.

Pulaski, North Little Rock, and Little Rock schools said they'd follow the same protocol should it happen here.

Dillaha said, “So in the meantime, it’s continuing to spread.”

The Department of Health is warning parents to consider getting the vaccine as early as possible. Walbrup is discussing it with other parents trying to avoid the risk of something happening to her little girl. 

Walbrup said, "I have met parents even sitting in the pediatrician's office who have children who have autism and they believe that it's a result of the MMR vaccine."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2013 did a study showing that vaccines do not cause autism spectrum disorder. The study examined the number of antigens (substances in vaccines which cause the body's immune system to fight diseases) from vaccines during the first two years of life. The results of the studies showed that children with autism and those without received the same amount antigens. There have been nine studies since 2003 that have shown no links between the MMR vaccine and autism in children.

Symptoms of mumps include fever and swollen puffy cheeks and jaws. The health department encourages parents to contact their local doctors if you suspect symptoms of the disease.

(© 2016 KTHV)


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