Mumps outbreak spreads to Bellevue

The recent mumps outbreak has spread to Bellevue, health department officials announced Thursday.

Mumps is an contagious disease caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw, according to the state department of health. It is not fatal, but can lead to serious complications in rare cases.

One case of mumps was identified by Public Health of Seattle and King County in the city on Dec. 15. The outbreak was first confirmed late last month and has been spreading north over the last few weeks. Mumps cases have also been found in Spokane, Yakima and Pierce Counties.

Health department officials would not specify the age or location of the Bellevue patient, but said that the person is a teenager.

More than 80 cases have been diagnosed in Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Seattle and other cities, according to the health department. Most are in children aged 17 years and younger, and 70 percent of the cases have occurred in patients with a up-to-date MMR vaccine.

Because mumps is highly contagious, mumps outbreaks can occur even in vaccinated populations because a minority of people don’t respond to the vaccine and remain susceptible.

“Vaccination provides very good protection, but not 100 percent. The MMR vaccine is on average 88 percent protective for mumps after two doses,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

Persons with mumps can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It can also be spread by sharing cups or eating utensils, and by touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Up to 30% percent of people with mumps infection will have no symptoms.

There is no treatment for mumps. Most people recover from mumps in a few weeks. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications that may require hospitalization, including inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and deafness.

More information on the emerging mumps outbreak is available on and the health department’s website.

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