GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Just days before mumps cases affected the Minnesota Wild team, federal health officials met to discuss whether the United States should consider an additional dose of the mumps vaccine, boosting the immunization from two doses to three doses.
A new workgroup formed through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will spend the next year studying mumps outbreaks clustered at college campuses and sports teams, and mostly occurring among vaccinated young adults.
Patsy Stinchfield, a Children’s Minnesota infectious disease nurse practitioner, traveled to Atlanta last week as part of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting with the CDC. She will be among federal health officials studying mumps closely over the next year.
“Some of the concern is why is it this narrow age group, why is it in certain geographic areas not others? Why is it mostly vaccinated young adults getting mumps?” said Stinchfield.
The Minnesota Wild continues to monitor the health of two star players who tested positive for the mumps. The virus sidelined Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, along with an assistant coach.
The team dealt with mumps outbreak back in 2014.
Mumps is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person via droplets of saliva or mucus from an infected person. Symptoms appear generally two to three weeks after exposure, which can make it difficult to know where a person caught the virus.
“Some people think it’s just a mild cute disease where you get this chipmunk look at a cough and cold type of symptoms, but it can cause encephalitis, meningitis, swelling of testicles and ovaries, and in some men, it’s rare but some men can become sterile because of mumps,” said Stinchfield.
Currently, the CDC recommends that children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine — for measles, mumps and rubella — with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years.
“Two doses of vaccine covers about 88 percent of people, but that’s still 12 percent of people that don’t respond to two doses of vaccine so the CDC working group is really gathering to say do we need a third dose? Or do we need a third dose just in outbreaks?” said Stinchfield. “One of the questions is: Do we need a third dose for all of us as a routine? That is being studied and we won’t have that answer for another year or so.”
The Minnesota Department of Health said it tracked 25 cases of the mumps in 2016, which was higher than the usual 10 to 20 sporadic cases. Besides the three cases identified within the Minnesota Wild, the Minnesota Department of Health has just tracked two more cases in Minnesota in 2017. It hasn't identified where the Wild players were exposed to mumps but believe it was likely not in Minnesota.
Doctors recently provided players and staff with an MMR vaccination and the organization will continue to work closely with the Minnesota Department of Health.
“The vaccine has saved lives and saved a lot of disability for people and reduced disease by 99 percent, it’s these little small pockets of outbreaks that are still popping up that we are trying to understand better,” said Stinchfield.
So far in January of 2017, 27 states in the U.S. reported mumps infections in 495 people to the CDC.
In 2015, the CDC tracked 5,311 cases, compared to 2012, with 229 cases.
Read CDC statistics on mumps outbreak here.