Mumps Outbreak in Northwest Arkansas

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SPRINGDALE, Ark.  — A dozen students in Springdale, Arkansas are staying home after the Arkansas Department of Health confirms a mumps outbreak in the district.

The department classifies two or more related cases as a cluster or an outbreak.  The last cluster was in 2010, with five cases that year.

With eight now confirmed in Springdale, the department said it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

“I want to like take my kids out of school,”  Anna Williams a Sonora Middle Mom said.

Arkansas Department of Health said this is the biggest mumps outbreak in six years.

“Those 8 students have been sent home, obviously they’ll be under care there while they have the mumps,”  Rick Schaeffer with Springdale Public Schools said.

Springdale Schools told us while most kids are required to get the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination before they start school, some students can skip the shot.

” You can for philosophical or religious reasons you can exempt out of your MMR immunizations, at those four schools we only have four students who have done that, those four students also have been sent home,” Schaeffer said. 

Which for some parents is concerning.

“It should just be 100% across the board, no matter what you look like, smell like, it shouldn’t matter,” Williams said.

The Department of Health said the homebound students won’t be allowed back in class until they get vaccinated, or they spend 26 days at home with no symptoms of the mumps.

“If they’ve had their shots, they’re safe,” Schaeffer said.

But, if you’re still worried your kid may have been exposed, the department sid there are some things to watch for.

“Most people have an illness that involves involves swelling of the parotids, swelling, fever, they don’t feel good,” Wheeler said.

And they said the disease is easily spread by just being in close proximity to someone who is infected.

“The containment of an outbreak like this is challenging,” he said.

So with Labor Day weekend on the horizon, ADH said it may be working to contain the disease across the state.

“We are just at the beginning of trying to assess how big it is and we have no idea how long it will last,” Wheeler said.

“It’s scary,” Williams said. “You just want to make sure they’re not bringing stuff home.”

The affected schools are Springdale High School, Lakeside Junior High, Sonora Middle, And Turnbow Elementary.
The school district said it will provide the students who have been sent home with all the resources they need so they won’t fall behind in their classes.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the Measles, Mumps, And Rubella vaccine is safe and 88-percent effective in preventing the disease.
The vaccine contains a live virus, and is not recommended for pregnant women or patients with a weakened immune system.

The department said you can get the vaccine at your local department of health office, and may also be available at your doctor’s office or your local pharmacy.


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