NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana Department of Health is on high alert after recent outbreaks of mumps in other parts of the country.
There haven't been any cases in Louisiana yet, but state health officials are still very concerned about mumps outbreaks in neighboring states.
"I believe the current case count in Arkansas is roughly approaching 2,500 people, which is just something we haven't seen in years and years," said Dr. Frank Welch with the Louisiana Department of Health.
According to the CDC, as of Dec. 3, 2016, there have been over 4,200 reported mumps infections in 46 states and the District of Columbia.
"The state has not just been monitoring but also alerting hospitals, health care practitioners and physicians in the state about the possibility of seeing mumps cases," said Welch.
Welch believes we have not seen any cases here due to the high vaccination compliance rate in our state.
"But again, we are on high alert, we have used it to communicate with all kinds of people and our baseline message there is watch for the signs and symptoms of Mumps but also make sure your patients are vaccinated, that's the best way to prevent Mumps," said Welch.
LSU Health pediatrician Dr. Betty Lo says children should be vaccinated against the disease.
"Not everyone is eligible, including pregnant females, very immune-suppressed patients including those with cancers on chemotherapy etc., so it does exclude a number of patients who are actually very ill, but for the most part, our young children should be receiving these immunizations," said Lo.
The symptoms of mumps include swollen and painful cheeks, often on one side, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. But it can also lead to serious complications like brain swelling and infertility in men. As to why there have been recent outbreaks of a disease not often seen in the U.S., the state says it's likely a combination of factors.
"Probably of a percentage of people not following through with their vaccinations but remember there are some people who can't be vaccinated due to allergies or illnesses or things like that given that the vaccine is only say 90 percent effective again that leaves 10 percent of people unprotected even though they didn't know it," said Welch.