Six cases of mumps confirmed in Sanpete County; Utah health officials push for vaccinations

File Image: Centers for Disease Control

UTAH, May 2, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Six cases of mumps have been confirmed in Sanpete County, and state health officials are urging members of the public to be vaccinated for mumps and other highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases including measles and rubella.

“All of us must choose to immunize,” Dr. Joseph Miner, executive director of the Utah Department of Health, said at a Thursday morning news conference.

Miner urged vaccination, “… not only just to protect our own children, but also, even more importantly, to protect infants and children of others, our friends and neighbors, who are too young to be immunized, or who have lost their immunity.”

“We have many vaccines that are very safe and effective. In fact, they are so effective that too many of us are inexperienced with the diseases and ignorant of the seriousness of them.”

Minor said he has walked through graveyards, reading century-old markers, “and it’s amazing to see how many infants and toddlers died back then. We don’t see that now, but that could occur back then if we don’t immunize.”

Minor said America now is experiencing its largest number of measles cases in the past 25 years, and the disease will inevitably spread to Utah.

Dr. Allyn Nakashima, an epidemiologist with the Utah Dept of Health, noted the current trend for people not to avoid vaccination for their children.

“These are good parents, and most of them are concerned about their children,” she said, adding that many people now get erroneous information from non-scientific sources they see on social media.

Nakashima said it appeared America had eliminated measles, but more than 700 cases have been reported this year.

“We haven’t had cases in Utah, but we are thinking we may not escape that bullet,” she said, adding that surrounding states have experienced outbreaks. In fact, the mumps outbreak signals that many Utahns may be susceptible to measles, since immunity is provided by the same MMR — measles, mumps. rubella — vaccine, she said.

Dr. Andy Pavia, a pediatric infectious disease specialist from University of Utah Healthcare, said he’s often asked, “What’s the big deal, measles is a childhood disease.”

“Many parents and doctors alive today have never seen a case of measles,” he said. “I’ve not only seen measles, I’ve seen a number of children die from measles. It’s a big deal.”

Dr. Tamara Sheffield, prevention specialist Intermountain Healthcare, talked about measles, mumps and rubella. Currently in Madagascar, she said, there are 70,000 cases of measles and have been 1,000 deaths.

In America, the death rate is one or two people per thousand, Sheffield said. In the United States, one or two per thousand will die, and one in a thousand will get encephalitis, which causes brain swelling that can cause hearing loss, blindness or a permanent decrease in intellectual capacities.

“We cannot cure these diseases once a person is infected,” Sheffield said. “We cannot cure it. The only thing we can do is prevent the disease. The tool that we have to prevent them is using the tool we have, the MMR vaccine.”

To see the full Utah Department of Health presentation, click the player below.

Public health officials and local health system officials worry about vaccine preventable diseases

Posted by Utah Department of Health on Thursday, May 2, 2019

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