Two possible cases of mumps — one probable and one suspected — have been reported in Clark County as the largest outbreak of the virus in Ohio in years spreads.
Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said Tuesday the probable case is a male Ohio State University student from Clark County. The suspected case is a woman who lives in the county and has no known affiliation with the university, where more than 150 of the cases have been reported in students or staff members.
The case involving the local Ohio State student wasn’t brought to the attention of health officials in time to test for mumps and he is no longer contagious. Health officials are waiting for test results on the woman.
“The public health community and physicians have heightened awareness and are on the look out (for mumps cases). We’re definitely in that time frame in the area where we could start seeing cases that are not linked to OSU. But we don’t know if these are mumps cases,” Patterson said.
“We’re watching it very closely,” he said.
The announcement of the purported cases in Clark County came the same day Brian Fowler, the chief of vaccine-preventable disease epidemiology at the Ohio Department of Health, called the mumps outbreak the largest in Ohio in years.
There are a total of 260 probable and confirmed cases of the mumps in Ohio, according to state data released this week.
Nationwide 276 cases of mumps have been reported, about 90 percent of them are in Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, 438 cases were reported for all of last year.
The first case reported in Ohio dates to early January, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Franklin County has the most probable and confirmed cases with 216, followed by Delaware County with 28.
The confirmed and probable cases have affected those between the ages of 9 months and 80 years old. Sixty-three percent are in women, and 37 percent are in men. Most people recover without the need for hospitalization, according to ODH.
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.
It typically starts with a fever, headache, tenderness and swelling of salivary glands near the jaw line, Bayless said.
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.
Local health officials currently aren’t working with schools on an increased vaccination effort, he said, but said if an outbreak of mumps occurs in a school, additional action will need to be taken.
“If we start to see an outbreak in a school, those children who are not immunized will have to be held out of school … With mumps cases you have to exclude the sick people and those who are not immunized,” Patterson said.
The disease is contagious three days before symptoms appear and a carrier can spread the virus four days after symptoms appear, health officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story