NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There's been a confirmed case of the mumps here in New Orleans. That's according to a Loyola University spokesperson, who says one of their students was recently diagnosed with the virus. A number of LSU students have also come down with it.
Dr. Brobson Lutz is very concerned that mumps is now popping up in Louisiana.
"Back in the 1960s, maybe there were a quarter million cases a year in the United States. The number of cases had gotten down to about 200 a few years ago, but now there's an increase," said Lutz.
The state health department says it was just a matter of time before it arrived here, especially when you consider the number of recent outbreaks in other parts of the country.
"In 2016, due to the outbreaks we talked about, Arkansas,Washington,Oregon, Illinois, we had more than 5,300 cases in the United States in 2016, and so far we're going pretty good for 2017. We've had more than a thousand cases already. It's at 1,200 and some right now, and we're only in March," said Dr. Frank Welch with the Louisiana Department of Health.
Now, anywhere from six to nine LSU students have been diagnosed with the disease, and the state is expecting to see even more cases.
"We do believe this is a little bit of the tip of an iceberg of a mumps epidemic or a problem in Louisiana. We're hoping it's not, but these cases could be just the first wave in something. We could see more cases over the next couple weeks," said Welch.
Lutz says there could be a number of reasons why were seeing a resurgence.
"People are really looking at the reasons and wondering why, it maybe multifactorial, maybe the vaccine now is not as good as the vaccine was before, maybe fewer people are getting immunized," said Lutz.
And doctors say it's important for parents to make sure their children are immunized, because getting sick with the mumps can cause serious complications.
"The symptoms that make mumps really recognizable are onset of fever, chills, not feeling well, and big ole swollen parotid glands," said Lutz. "But they can cause sterility and other problems in older males."
The state offers these tips for preventing mumps: Make sure children over the age of 4 get their two MMR vaccines. That vaccine is 90 percent effective. If you have symptoms of the mumps which include headache, a low-grade fever, and swelling in your jaw, stay home and isolated from other people.
Call your doctor and they can test you for mumps. Also, the disease is spread through saliva, so don't share utensils or cups with other people.Wash your hands and cover your cough and sneezes.