Number of suspected mumps cases at 3 Barrington schools now at 12
Health officials said Thursday there are two confirmed cases of mumps at Barrington High School and they have identified 10 probable cases of the disease at the high school and at Prairie and Station middle schools in Barrington.
The Lake County Health Department warned more cases could occur because the employees and students suspected of contracting the contagious disease attend different grade levels. Health officials are calling the cases a cluster -- not an outbreak -- because only two cases have been confirmed, not three.
School officials sent parents an email alerting them to watch for signs and symptoms of the contagious disease and to contact their child's physician if they notice symptoms, spokeswoman Morgan Delack said.
"We are following the department's guidance in order to help reduce the spread of the virus in our community," Barrington Unit District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said in a message posted Thursday afternoon on the district's website. "Our facilities are always cleaned each night. In an effort to contain the spread of illness, our maintenance crews have been directed to pay special attention to high-touch surfaces like tables and chairs."
The first student with a confirmed case of mumps received proper vaccinations, said Viktor Plotkin, supervisor of the health department's communicable disease program. Immunity from diseases can fade after childhood vaccinations, Plotkin said. However, it is important from a public health perspective to receive vaccinations to prevent outbreaks, he said.
"From a community standpoint, vaccination is very important," Plotkin said. "The more people who are vaccinated in the community, the less opportunity there for people en masse to become infected.
The health department is investigating whether the other students and staff members suspected of contracting mumps were vaccinated.
The disease is difficult to detect because symptoms can be nonspecific. Mumps is caused by a virus, and symptoms include swollen glands along the jaw line and in front of the ear. Other symptoms include headache, low-grade fever, tiredness and loss of appetite. It is spread through coughing, sneezing and other contact with saliva.
"What happens is people don't realize they have it, and they walk around and pass the virus to others," Plotkin said.
Facts about mumpsFacts about mumps
Incubation period: 2-3 weeks.
Contagious period: One or two days before to five days after onset of parotitis (swelling near the jaw and neck).
Symptoms: Swelling or pain close to the jaw on one or both sides of the face is the hallmark symptom. Also headache, low-grade fever, earache, sore throat or cough.
How it's spread: Sneezing, coughing, sharing of cups or other items with contact to saliva.
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