Health officials confirm Alaska mumps case

  • Monday, September 8, 2014 11:32pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — A 50-year-old Alaska woman contracted mumps in July, the first confirmed case within the state in a decade.

The woman on July 11 went to see a doctor after she suffered headaches, jaw pain and trismus, which can mean lockjaw or muscle spasms in the jaw, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday.

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology tested samples and confirmed the presence of mumps virus.

Fewer than 500 people in the United States contract mumps each year, and Alaska’s previous outbreak was in 1995. It’s a communicable illness that is largely preventable with a vaccine.

The disease can lead to complications that included meningitis, encephalitis and loss of hearing. Severe complications in recent years are rare, according to the Section of Epidemiology, and are more often seen in adults than children.

The virus is most communicable three days before and after the patient begins to experience jaw tightness or spasms. It can be transferred as much as seven days before the inflammation of salivary glands and two weeks after.

The woman diagnosed with mumps had just returned from a trip to Japan, where she had chaperoned students. During the trip June 6 to 26, she stayed with a host family in which a girl had been diagnosed with mumps five days before the group left.

The woman told health officials she thought she had received the mumps, measles and rubella vaccination as a child. She did not have a record of the vaccination.

No one else on the trip were affected.

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