Letter from Seattle Public Health – Mumps

December 21st, 2016

by Katrina Brooke

Public Health – Seattle & King County (Public Health) is investigating an outbreak of mumps in King County with a growing number of cases in children and adolescents. So far, the mumps cases are primarily in the Auburn area but the outbreak can easily spread to other schools and areas in King County, including to childcares. We are sending you this letter to provide you information on the mumps outbreak and steps you can take to protect the children in your care and others from getting mumps.

What is mumps?

Mumps is caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious health problems that may require hospitalization, such as swelling of the brain or deafness. Up to 30% of people with mumps infection will have no symptoms.

How is mumps spread?

A person with mumps can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or talking. It can also be spread by sharing cups, baby bottles, spoons, forks and other utensils, and by touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Who is at risk of getting mumps*?

  • Infants who are too young to receive mumps vaccine (less than 1 year of age).
  • Children over 1 year of age who have not received at least 1 dose of Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not previously had mumps disease.

* Note: People born before 1957 probably had mumps as children and are usually considered immune.

What should childcare programs do now?

  • Make sure the children in your program are up-to-date on MMR vaccine (for children over 1 year of age, this includes at least 1 dose of MMR vaccine). Make sure you have records of each child’s MMR vaccinations from their families.
  • Ask staff to check whether they’ve received MMR vaccine and to get vaccinated if they haven’t.
  • Watch for symptoms of mumps (fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw).

If a child develops any of the symptoms (fever, headache, swelling of the cheeks and jaw):

  • Their family should call their doctor and tell them about the child’s symptoms
  • The child should stay home and away from other people and from public places until 5 days after the swelling of cheeks/jaw started. They are contagious during this period.

Additional information about mumps can be found at:




The Child Care Health Program and the Communicable Disease & Immunization Program

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