The mumps outbreak in Ohio now includes two unconfirmed cases at Dayton Children’s Hospital, where the mumps hasn’t been seen in at least two decades, hospital officials said.
Two Greene County boys, ages 2 and 19 months, who were treated at the hospital last month are strongly suspected of having mumps, although hospital officials are still waiting for lab test results.
“It is important to note that while our infectious disease experts do believe that these cases are very likely the mumps, the Greene County Combined Health District and the Ohio Department of Health have not yet confirmed the cases,” according to a release from the hospital. “At this time, one case is considered probable, and one case is considered suspect.”
Locally, in addition to the boys, at least six suspected or probable cases of mumps have been reported in Clark County, and there is growing suspicion among local health officials that the cases may be tied to the more than 200 confirmed cases of mumps among Ohio State University students and staff.
In the area in and around the university campus in Central Ohio, at least 333 mumps cases have been reported in Franklin, Delaware and Madison counties.
There is no evidence that the outbreak at Ohio State and across Central Ohio, including at least 333 cases reported in Franklin, Delaware and Madison counties, has spread to the Dayton area. But local health officials are concerned the disease may be transported by Ohio State students returning home for the summer.
“With all of the people that live in the Dayton area that travel back and forth from Columbus, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the local cases were linked” to Ohio State, said Bill Wharton, a spokesman for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County. “It’s been awhile since we’ve had any mumps here, and you have to be in contact with someone who has mumps to get the mumps.”
The best way to protect against the disease, whose symptoms include fever and swelling in the face and neck, is to stay up to date on the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, said Greene County Health Commissioner Melissa Howell, who said the last confirmed cases of mumps in Greene County where two cases reported in April 2010.
The vaccine is 88 percent effective in preventing the mumps, which is not considered lethal but can lead to serious complications such as deafness, fertility problems, and inflammation of the brain.
“Our goal is to stop the spread of disease, and the vaccine is the No. 1 choice when it comes to protecting yourself,” Howell said. Mumps “is a very contagious disease. A person can cough or sneeze or even talk, and spread the illness. The vaccine is the best way to keep from getting sick if you are exposed.”
The vaccine has been required in children who enroll in Ohio grade schools since 1986, but foreign students and travelers are not subject to the same requirements and Americans who refuse to get vaccinated have been largely responsible for recent outbreaks around the country.
Health officials could not say whether the Greene County boys had been vaccinated.