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Doctors urge people to vaccinate after Washington measles outbreak, case of mumps found in Washington County elementary school

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 23:30:48-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Following an emergency declaration in Washington State due to a measles outbreak, and then an outbreak in Oregon, Intermountain Healthcare is urging Utahns to get vaccinated.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department sent a letter to parents last week about a case of the mumps diagnosed in a student at Sunset Elementary in Washington County.

Both of these diseases can be prevented by the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. According to Intermountain Healthcare, the majority of reported measles cases in Washington State are children who were not vaccinated, and vaccinating is the only way to prevent the measles.

The measles is mostly transmitted through the air, but can also be transmitted by touch. Mumps is spread through “respiratory droplets,” created when and person coughs or sneezes, and saliva; sharing cups and utensils can also spread the virus.

Newborn children and children under the age of five are the most susceptible to infection. Adults over the age of 20, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are also at an increased risk of infection.

“The best way of preventing the spread of measles is to have every single person in a community vaccinated, and to keep those who are infected at home, so they do not expose anyone else to this potentially deadly virus,” said Dr. Tamara Sheffield, medical director for Community Health and Prevention at Intermountain Healthcare.  “If you suspect you may have measles, call ahead to you doctor to arrange a place to meet that will not expose others in an office or waiting room.”

Symptoms of the mumps typically don’t appear until 14-18 days later, although people can be infections within three days of contracting the virus.

Doctors, health departments and the Intermountain community pharmacy can all give the MMR vaccine. For more information about the vaccine, check out the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention website. Learn more about the symptoms of measles here, and symptoms of mumps here.

Editor’s note: this story previously said the mumps case was found at the Sunset Elementary in Davis County. This has been corrected; the mumps case was found at the Sunset Elementary in Washington County.