... 027/NEWS11

Mumps case in Brewster causes health officials to act

Original publication: July 15, 2006)

BREWSTER — Health officials were out on Main Street yesterday morning and will be there again early today doling out vaccinations after a case of the mumps was found in a Brewster resident.

The Putnam County Health Department was notified late Thursday that a middle-aged man who came to Putnam Hospital Center with symptoms Monday had tested positive for the virus, said Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. He had not been previously immunized, she said.

Vaccination stations were set up near Bob's Diner and Scally's Deli at 6 a.m. yesterday and health practitioners provided 60 free measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, shots, primarily to the village's day laborer population, said Health Department nurse Patricia Gormley. Educational information was also distributed.

"We are trying to reach people who have never been immunized or had the disease," Amler said. "Since the case was in Brewster, that's where we're vaccinating."

Health officials are expected to be out again this morning with an additional 300 MMR doses, Amler said.

This is the first reported case in Putnam County in recent years, Amler said. Mumps is an acute viral illness that can be spread through airborne transmission and contact with an infected person's saliva or nasal or throat secretions.

The disease, generally contracted by children between the ages of 5 and 14, is contagious three days before and nine days after the onset of symptoms, which may include fever, headache and swollen salivary glands.

The parotid gland — located below the ear, near the jaw line — is most commonly affected. Symptoms usually show up 16 to 18 days from the start of the infection.

While severe complications are rare, mumps can cause meningitis, pancreatitis, permanent deafness, testicle/ovarian inflammation or death.

A mumps vaccination in the U.S. first became widely available in 1967.

The number of reported mumps incidences nationwide has steadily declined, from 5,712 cases in 1989 to 258 in 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is no specific treatment for mumps, but drinking lots of fluids and bed rest are recommended.

Normally, children in the U.S. receive the MMR vaccination at 15 months of age, and then it is repeated later, Amler said. The vaccine is required for children entering kindergarten.

"A lot of people in the immigrant population have never been immunized," Amler said. "That's why we are there, as a preventative measure."

Emilio Romero, a Guatemalan day laborer, was among the people vaccinated yesterday.

He said he had the mumps when he was 14 and measles when he was 22. But since he had never had rubella, also a contagious viral infection that causes red rash and swollen glands, he said he wanted the injection. Romero did not think he had been immunized as a child, he said.

"This is a good idea. They are trying to protect us," said Romero, 46. "I welcome any health information and help in preventing disease."

For more information on mumps or to make an appointment, call the Putnam County Health Department at 845-278-6558.