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Fearing More Mumps Cases, Health Officials Order Some Kids Out Of School

Nearly 200 cases of mumps have been reported in Washington state.
Nearly 200 cases of mumps have been reported in Washington state.

Students will have to stay home from school in Spokane if they can’t prove immunity to mumps. The U.S is in the midst of the largest mumps outbreak in a decade, and it’s hit the Northwest.

So far, 56 cases have been reported in Spokane County. Sixty percent of those involve patients who were vaccinated.

“We need individuals to not take those case counts at face value,” Spokane Regional Health District spokeswoman Kim Papich said.

She says the mumps vaccine is on average 88 percent effective.

“We have more people that are vaccinated and we have more people who are vaccinated coming into contact with people who are contagious,” Papich said.

She called it “an uneven playing field,” because while the majority of the population is vaccinated, at least 10 percent of them can still get mumps. People who are not vaccinated are more contagious.

At least 200 Spokane-area students will be kept out of the classroom for close to a month. Last month, health officials in King County ordered 300 students in the Auburn School District to stay home if they couldn’t prove they were immune to the mumps.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.