RED OAK — Symptoms ranging from a fever to general tiredness or loss of appetite and even simple muscle aches are often signs of a cold or the flu. However, for those who are not up-to-date on the MMR vaccine and also have swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears, the symptoms might be the result of something worse — mumps.
In a statement issued via its Facebook page Friday afternoon, Red Oak ISD informed parents and the community that Dallas County Health and Human Services had officially notified the district of a possible case of mumps at Red Oak High School.
"Please be advised that we have not received official confirmation, which could take up to a week," the post reads. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying all ROISD parents and employees, and the ROISD maintenance staff will be deep cleaning at the campus, using the district’s disinfectant protocol."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a person could carry the disease 16-18 days, or even 12-25 days, before ever showing symptoms. Those symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides, also known as parotitis.
"Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease," states the CDC web page. "Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks."
The CDC website also explains that the viral disease is generally mild in children but can become severe in adults. There is also no cure for mumps, only supportive treatments such as bed rest, additional fluids, and fever reduction.
"Mumps spreads from person to person via droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes, or talks," states a mumps fact sheet found on the CDC website. "The virus may also be spread indirectly when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and then someone else touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose. Mumps is less contagious than measles or chickenpox."
While the case is the first reported at Red Oak High School, the CDC has already confirmed 29 cases at nearby Cedar Hill High School.
A press release issued Monday, March 6 by Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) stated that, in addition to the 29 cases in Cedar Hill, there are also believed to be at least eight others in Dallas County. The release also notes that not all cases involve Dallas County residents.
"If your child develops a fever or flu-like symptoms, please keep them home and contact your healthcare provider," the ROISD statement adds. "Those who have not received the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine are most at risk. To keep our school community healthy, we ask that parents follow the district’s illness protocol. Please keep your student home if he or she has a temperature of 99.8 [degrees] or higher, and is suffering from one or more of the following: cold or flu-like symptoms, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, swollen glands or rash.
"To prevent the spread of illness, please do not send them to school. Your child must be fever-free for at least 24 or more hours before returning to school. Students who require fever-reducing medicine should be kept home. If your child has a fever or any of the symptoms listed above for more than 48 hours, seek medical attention immediately. If you have questions or concerns about your child attending school, please contact the school nurse at your campus."
According to DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson, the outbreak of mumps in the school districts further adds to the importance of receiving all three MMR vaccinations.
“The increased number of mumps cases reported in the North Texas area underscore the importance of getting vaccinated,” stated Thompson in the DCHHS release.
Dr. Christopher Perkins, the Dallas County medical director and health authority, added to the importance of the vaccines when he explained, "at two doses, the MMR vaccine is very impactful at 88 percent effectiveness."
“Getting vaccinated is the best option for protection in addition to washing hands frequently and cleaning or disinfecting objects or surfaces that may be contaminated with germs,” he stated in the release.
***UPDATE (Tuesday, March 7 at 2:05 P.M.) ROISD officials notified the Daily Light that DCHHS has informed the district that the case in question is not mumps.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith