Clark County now has a total of six suspected and probable cases of mumps as the largest outbreak of the virus in Ohio in years continues to spread.
The suspected and probable mumps cases include four adults and two children, including a 4-year-old, Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said Friday.
Clark County Combined Health District officials became aware of the three new suspected cases this week. Officials are now waiting for test results on those three cases — an adult man, an adult woman and a child who is less than 5 years old.
“All of these cases are potentially related,” Patterson said, adding all of them are known to each other, and two of the three are relatives.
More than 330 cases of mumps have been confirmed in Ohio and the majority of the cases have been linked to Ohio State University students or staff members.
Public health officials are concerned the disease will continue to spread now that many Ohio State students are on summer break and have returned to their hometowns, officials said.
“We certainly have heightened our awareness. We know this is a possibility,” Patterson said. “We hope we don’t see more cases, but we’re planning for the worse and hoping for the best.”
The mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus and is spread through coughing and sneezing, said Susan Bayless, director of nursing at the Clark County Combined Health District.
Symptoms include a fever, headache, tenderness and swelling of salivary glands near the jaw line, Bayless said.
People who show symptoms usually recover after a week or two, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the virus occasionally causes serious complications. Rare complications can include deafness, fertility problems, and inflammation of the brain or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.
Officials said the outbreaks can be blamed on a number of factors, but the unvaccinated population is a primary cause.
“We would hope this might be that kick to make them get more serious about it,” Bayless said.
Last month, two suspected cases and one probable case were reported in Clark County, but officials were unable to confirm if any of the three had the disease.
The probable case was an Ohio State student who wasn’t brought to the attention of health officials in time to test for mumps and he is no longer contagious.
Tests on the other two suspected cases — a woman in her 20s and a child — were inconclusive.
Champaign County Director of Nursing Karla Green said there are currently no mumps cases in the Champaign County Health District area.
“We’re always in preparation mode (if cases occur),” Green said.
In addition, state health officials are investigating a measles outbreak in Ashland, Coshocton, Holmes, Knox, Richland and Wayne counties, where there are 59 cases of the disease that have been confirmed.
Patterson urged residents to get immunized and to check with their physician or public health officials to determine if their vaccinations are up to date.
The Clark County Combined Health District is located at 529 E. Home Road. Appointments for vaccinations can be made for between 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Walk-ins are accepted 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
On Thursday, the facility is open from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important public health stories, including reporting on suspected mumps cases since the news first broke last month.
By the numbers
6 — Total number of suspected and probable mumps cases in Clark County
330 — Approximate number of mumps cases statewide
59 — Confirmed cases of measles in Ashland, Coshocton, Holmes, Knox, Richland and Wayne counties