Health officials spread Texas mumps notice to dozens of states

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AUSTIN — Texas officials are notifying health departments in 38 other states, including Indiana, that children and adults at a recent Dallas cheerleading competition may have been exposed to mumps.

The National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship took place from Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

The association’s spokeswoman did not respond to an email and telephone calls for comment, but the event included 23,655 athletes, 2,600 coaches, 1,320 teams from 39 states and nine countries, according to the NCA website.

Dr. Jennifer Shuford, an infectious disease medical officer with the Texas Department of State Health Services, said that as of Friday only one participant who had symptoms at the event has been reported, but cautioned that because of its incubation period, symptoms may only now be showing up in others.

“While vaccination against mumps is the best protection against mumps infection, vaccinated individuals may still become infected,” Antonio Aragon of the DSHS Emerging and Acute Infectious Disease Branch, wrote in a letter that appears on the agency’s website. “Anyone diagnosed with or suspected of having mumps should stay home five days after swollen glands appear.”

According to the DSHS Facebook page, “people who attended the competition should be alert for symptoms through March 22.”

The agency declined to say where the participant with the reported case of mumps is from.

“For privacy reasons, we cannot give out any information that might be used to identify the contagious person,” the DSHS wrote in response to a query on its Facebook page.

Chris Van Deusen, a DSHS spokesman, said in an email that “we’re notifying gyms in Texas that sent teams to the competition through the local health department and our regional offices around the state.

“We’re working with other state health department to inform gyms in their jurisdictions.”

In a subsequent email, Van Deusen wrote that “we sent a letter to the gyms that are in our jurisdiction and asked the local health departments to forward our letter to gyms in their jurisdictions.”

Van Deusen wrote in an email that he did not have a list of gyms that have been notified, and that “we wouldn’t release that level of detail.”

According to Aragon’s DSHS letter:

*Mumps is spread through saliva and respiratory droplets created when a person sick with mumps coughs and sneezes. Sharing cups and utensils may also spread the virus.

*The time from being infected with the virus to developing symptoms can be as long as 25 days but is typically 14 to 18 days.

*People with mumps are infectious three days before to five days after swollen glands appear. Infected people without symptoms of mumps may still be able to transmit the virus.

Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, aching muscles and low-grade fever.

“Right now, during flu season, you might just think you have flu,” Shuford said.

Mumps can have long-term repercussions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults.”

Complications include:

• inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems

• inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)

• inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

• inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis)

• deafness

Only .97 percent of Texas K-12 students claimed conscientious objections to minimum state vaccine requirements in 2016-17.

But Shuford said it’s not unexpected to see mumps outbreaks in schools and colleges.

“School-age and college-age kids are more in others’ spaces,” than adults in a typical workplace, Shuford said, and, “within any team, they’re in very close proximity.”

In 2016, the DSHS investigated a mumps outbreak with 71 Johnson County residents and one Tarrant County resident.

The DSHS also investigated two mumps outbreaks associated with North Texas cheerleading events in 2016.

The agency identified 11 mumps cases associated with that outbreak.

As for getting out word out of a mumps case, Shuford said there’s no ideal notification method.

“It’s just difficult for us to know who contacted whom,” Shuford said.

John Austin covers the Texas Statehouse for CNHI LLC’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at

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