Mumps cases in King County could be spreading

AUBURN, Wash. - The outbreak of the mumps virus in King County could be growing.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Auburn school district added one more school to the list affected, bringing the total to 5 schools.

The King County Health Department says there are nine confirmed or probable cases of the mumps. All of those cases are in Auburn, and all of those patients were vaccinated.

“It’s very scary to know something like this is around,” parent Daniel Letoe said.

Pioneer Elementary, Terminal Park Elementary, Olympic Middle, Auburn West Senior High and Auburn High School are the schools affected.

“Mumps spreads very well in school settings where people come together,” Dr. Jeff Duchin said with King County Health.

Out of the nine confirmed and probable cases of the mumps, five are from one family.

“What we are seeing is a highly infectious disease moving in a community,” Duchin said.

In addition to the nine cases, health officials are investigating another five suspicious cases. Experts say the mumps is very infections and everyone in the area should assume they are at risk - especially if they are not vaccinated.

It’s a challenge pinpointing the source of the virus, something that’s spread by sneezing or coming in contact with another person’s saliva.

About 30 percent of patients don’t show symptoms, and people can spread the virus without any symptoms but many do show signs.

“Face swelling like a chipmunk and a lot of pain, it hurts, big swollen glands in front of the ear under the jaw,” Duchin said.

Most can fight off the virus, but doctors say the mumps could lead to serious complications.

“It can involve meningitis, inflammation of the brain, testes, ovaries, so on, so forth,” Duchin said.

The Auburn school district sent a letter urging parents to keep a close eye for symptoms and to keep their kids home if there are any signs of illness.

“I can see it’s a serious virus,” Letoe said.

Letoe has two children in the Auburn district. He and his wife are now worried about the health of their family.

“Make sure the kids are getting vaccinated,”  Phian Mospatath said.

Duchin admits the vaccine is not perfect, but he says it’s 88 percent effective and still worth getting.

“If you don’t get your child vaccinated, they will be at the highest risk of both getting infected and getting a serious complication from mumps,” Duchin said.