Texas mumps cases hit 20-year high

Tom Hinde

A mumps outbreak in Texas has reached a 20-year high. Public health officials have identified 221 cases of the highly contagious disease in Texas since the beginning of 2017. So far the worst outbreaks have been in North Texas and a cluster of cases among people who visited South Padre Island during spring break.

Experts agree the increase isn't related to a dip in vaccination rates across the state. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said many of the people with mumps in Texas probably did get vaccinated. Vaccination is usually 80% effective according to Hotez. The lower vaccination rates are a concern nevertheless.

The disease is spread through coughing, sneezing and sharing cups and utensils. Health officials are asking Texans to be aware for symptoms like swollen salivary glands on either side of the neck. They also recommend citizens receive their vaccination.