Metairie school officials notify parents of possible mumps exposure

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A Metairie elementary school sent letters warning parents of possible exposure to mumps.

Parents at Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies received a letter from the school Wednesday, notifying them that a parent was hospitalized for mumps.

It also said the parent was possibly in contact with people at the Metairie Academy Gala Saturday, or on campus.

"It's kind of scary. The measles and chickenpox is one thing, but the mumps, it's scary," Sherri Alonzo said.

Although the school issued a statement to FOX 8 saying there are no known cases at the school, some parents are still worried.

"We were highly concerned. I know some parents choose not to vaccinate their children, and that is their right. However, for our own children's safety, I vaccinated my children, and my daughter vaccinated her own daughter you know, just for our own protection," Alonzo said.

However, Dr. Brobson Lutz says parents and students at the school may not have to worry.

"The outbreaks that occur around the United States often are in college-aged students. The younger children being closer to the immunization dates," Lutz said.

He said there's another reason young children are less prone to the virus.

"A lot of viruses have adopted that mechanism of not causing symptoms in younger children and survival of the virus. That virus is much more likely to be contracted and transmitted to others," Lutz said.

Lutz said the virus is highly contagious.

"Mumps causes enlargement of the parotid glands. I mean, peoples' faces are literally blown up, and the complications can include deafness and encephalitis. Very rare, but they can occur. And it can also affect the testicles, especially in adolescent males," Lutz said.

The school letter indicates the parent was vaccinated, but Lutz says it's not 100 percent foolproof.

"People who've been vaccinated, if they make up the majority of the population, you're still going to have a few cases, but you're not going to have near as many as you would in a totally unvaccinated population," Lutz said.

In the meantime, parents are keeping an eye out for symptoms.

"Hopefully it's not spread. Hopefully, it stays where it's at and they get better," Lutz said.

The school urges parents that if they do see symptoms of mumps, to go see their healthcare provider.

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