News

UPDATE: 14 Potential Cases Of Mumps At Harris County Jail

Individuals who have been confirmed sick and those who have symptoms have been isolated. About 300 inmates who may have been exposed to the mumps virus are in quarantine.

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and EMS medical director, provided an update about the mumps outbreak at the Harris County Jail on June 13, 2019.

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and EMS medical director, said Thursday there are 14 potential cases of mumps at the Harris County jail. Seven cases, six inmates and one staff member, had been confirmed as of Thursday morning.

The Houston Health Department is leading the response to the mumps outbreak. A spokesman told News 88.7 that the individuals who have been confirmed sick and those who have symptoms have been isolated. About 300 inmates who may have been exposed to the mumps virus are in quarantine.

Persse said at a news conference held at the headquarters for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office that his department is reasonably concerned about the outbreak “because, in a small percentage of patients, there are serious complications,” such as swelling and damage of reproductive organs, which can cause sterility, as well as inflammation of the brain. Mumps can also be dangerous for pregnant women.

Jail medical staff first recognized a symptomatic inmate in mid-May. No new cases were identified until last week or so, according to Persse. “That fits exactly what we would expect for the natural incubation period of mumps,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Persse said in a news release that his department is “looking at the individual cases to identify possible contacts to ensure sure proper action is taken as needed to prevent this disease from spreading further.” “We currently do not have reason to believe this outbreak has spread outside of the jail,” he added in the news release.

Personnel with the Houston Health Department has visited the jail this week to further coordinate response efforts, including the vaccination of jail staff and inmates, and isolation and quarantine guidelines.

Persse said that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office “acted quickly and appropriately when it became apparent there was a problem.”

At the news conference, Persse explained that mumps is a viral illness but it’s not that easy to contract. He said a person would have to be within approximately three feet of somebody coughing or sneezing, or share a glass or utensils.

Mumps symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and swollen glands under the ears or jaw. An infected person can spread mumps by coughing or sneezing and releasing tiny droplets of contaminated saliva, which can then be breathed in by another person.

The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine offers safe and long-lasting protection against mumps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children receive two dose of MMR vaccine, the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose 4 through 6 years of age.

“This is yet another reminder about the importance of proper vaccination against vaccine preventable diseases like mumps,” Persse said. “Proper vaccination is not only about protecting the individual receiving the vaccine, it’s about protecting everyone who comes into contact with that person.”

Two doses of MMR vaccine are 88% effective against mumps.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said his department is also working with the Harris County Public Health Department, led by Dr. Umair Shah.

You can watch Dr. Persse’s news conference here:

Share