Health officials have issued an alert warning people to be aware of an outbreak of mumps after over 40 people have come down with the illness in Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
The alert, which was issued on Thursday says that cases were initially misdiagnosed because of false negatives. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that it is unclear when this occurred.
Health officials are also not releasing any details about those who have come down with mumps.
What health officials say is that most of the patients are men who have sex with men and those who frequently visit large venues such as gyms, bars, theaters and nightclubs.
They continue to say that women and heterosexual men have fallen ill, but in those cases the individuals had social connections to men having sex with men.
“The majority of cases have had no documentation of complete vaccination; however, some cases were fully vaccinated,” according to the alert.
Highly contagious, mumps can spread very quickly among those in close quarters or social settings.
Three months ago, there were seven cases of mumps reported in two different clusters in men who have sex with men (MSM). Although there has yet to be a correlation between those cases and the recent outbreak.
“A major factor contributing to outbreaks of mumps is being in a crowded environment,” according to the alert. “Also, certain behaviors that result in exchanging saliva, such as kissing or sharing utensils, cups, lipstick or cigarettes, may increase the spread of the virus.”
The symptoms of mumps are fatigue, body aches, loss of appetite, a low-grade fever and swelling of the salivary glands. In some cases mumps can also lead to sterility.
Across the country, 2,570 people have contracted the illness from January to April 2017, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although mumps is not a common illness in the United States, there are still some cases of outbreaks. Last year there were 5,833 cases reported.
“Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year, but the actual number of cases was likely much higher due to underreporting,” according to the CDC. “Since the pre-vaccine era, there has been a more than 99% decrease in mumps cases in the United States.”
Once you get mumps you are contagious from two to five days after onset.
Routine vaccinations are the most effective way to guard yourself from getting sick.
California law requires that all children be vaccinated as they enter kindergarten with two doses of MMR.
The only ones exempt from being vaccinated must show medical proof.