A student at West Elementary School in Alton has a confirmed case of the mumps.
Parents said the school district sent them a phone call and email alert last Thursday. The email said, in part, “The student with the mumps is now fine and did not attend school while ill. However, it is possible that family members and students were exposed while the virus was potentially contagious.”
Parents said it prompted them to check their children’s immunization records and be aware of the symptoms, including fever and respiratory problems.
“They always talk about flu vaccinations, but they never talk about anything like that where that catches you off guard,” said Tiara Pierson, a parent of a West Elementary student.
Doctors say there is a small chance even a child who is immunized could get the mumps if exposed to it. That’s why it is important to maintain high vaccination rates.
“Even when kids are vaccinated, there is a two to four percent chance any individual kid will get mumps if they’re exposed to it,” said Dr. Kenneth Haller, a SLUCare Pediatrician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “If we go about below 95 percent vaccination in a community, that’s where we can find outbreaks, so it’s important kids get vaccinated against this.”
Dr. Haller said mumps is extremely contagious, and can lead to serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia.
“From the initial infection, kids can get so sick that have trouble swallowing, that they get dehydrated and end up in the hospital,” Dr. Haller said.
The Madison County Health Department has been notified of the mumps case, and it is working with the school district. A spokesperson sent the following statement:
MADISON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT STATEMENT
Feb. 14, 2017
We understand that local parents are concerned about the recent incident of mumps in Madison County. Madison County Health Department is working closely with Alton School District in regards to this isolated case.
Parents were notified and symptoms to watch for, plus encouraged to contact their physician should they experience these signs. Madison County Health Department encourages everyone to use preventive precautions which include following the 3 C’s and to be sure that all vaccinations are up to date.
The 3 C’s include:
- Clean (wash your hands thoroughly and often)
- Cover (your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze)
- Contain (stay home if you are sick, keep children home when they are sick).
It is also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and to not share eating or drinking utensils.
Madison County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC recommend children be immunized with two doses of MMR., which it the best protection from getting the virus.