More Mumps Approaching South Texas

Numerous adult Hondurans did not receive the mumps vaccine as children
rio grande valley south texas
(Precision Vaccinations)

The very contagious mumps virus appears to be spreading throughout southern Texas for the 2nd time in 2019. 

‘This is a part of the “2nd wave” of mumps cases, with a 3rd anticipated,’ Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Director Eduardo “Eddie” Olivarez, said to The Monitor on May 15, 2019.   

According to an email from the Texas Department State Health Services (DSHS) on May 15, 2019, there have been 234 mumps cases reported by Texans and non-residents during 2019.

When comparing this new DSHS data with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information from April 26, 2019, 736 mumps cases during 2019, it appears Texas has reported approximately 31 percent of all mumps cases in the USA. 

Which is unusual, since Texas continues to report a very high Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccination rate in students. 

The Texas DSHS recently reported the measles immunization coverage was 98.85 percent for 7th graders and 96.93 percent for kindergarten students. 

According to various local news sources, the recent surge of mumps cases is located along the Texas - Mexico border. 

The Texas counties reporting recent mumps cases are as follows:

  • Hidalgo County:  46 cases have been reported in various locations, such as the University of Texas Rio Grand Valley, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Memorial High School, Weslaco East High School, and a commercial athletic facility in Mission City, Texas
  • Cameron County:  25 mumps cases are confirmed, including several immigrants located in detention centers
  • El Paso County:  3 cases of mumps have been reported at Andres High School

Previously, during March 2019, 193 mumps cases in Texas were reported by various ICE locations, facilities operated or contracted by the Marshals Service, and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. 

Texas DSHS said in a statement during January 2019, ‘97 percent of these mumps cases were in the immigrant population.’ 

The reason for these immigrant-related mumps cases may be related to a vaccine mixture decision over 20 years ago. 

In February 2019, Honduran officials declared a medical state of emergency for the mumps epidemic that had infected over 5,500 people during January.

Additionally, the Honduran Ministry of Health said ‘there were 3,266,931 adults within the country susceptible to mumps because they never received the vaccine as children.’ 

Infectious disease specialist at the Honduran University Hospital Tito Alvarado, told local reporters, "These adults don’t have the antibodies to protect them, so the virus is producing mumps." 

This means many Hondurans who received the measles vaccine before the mid-90s were not immunized against the mumps virus. 

“It is discouraging to see vaccine-preventable diseases affecting so many people.  Pharmacists and physicians need to ensure that their patients are protected from all vaccine-preventable diseases,” said  Chris Felton, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist, MTM and Immunization Specialist for Brookshire Grocery Company. 

“In the past few months, I have observed an increase in questions about these diseases and the vaccines that prevent them from patients.  Being prepared to answer these questions and make vaccine recommendations will serve our patients well and alleviate fears” continued Felton.

Health officials say 'it's never too late to immunize your children.' 

DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend children receive one dose at 12 to 15 months of age and another at 4 to 6 years. 

Children too young to be vaccinated or who have only had one dose of vaccine are more likely to get infected and more likely to have severe complications if they do get sick, so immunization is especially important for adults and older children who are around infants and toddlers, says the CDC. 

In the USA, there are 2 approved measles vaccines, MMR-II and ProQuad, which are available from most pharmacies. 

Vaccine financial assistance programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts.