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CDC: Largest Outbreak of Mumps Since 2006 in New York, New Jersey


More than 1,000 people in New York and New Jersey, many of them adolescent Orthodox Jews, have been sickened with mumps since August of last year. The outbreak began at a summer camp for boys in Sullivan, NY, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Orange County NY has the greatest number of cases. Almost 500 have been confirmed since early November. Neighboring Rockland County has 317 confirmed cases. In New York City, 79 cases have been documented in Brooklyn. Another 159 had spread to Ocean County, NJ. The CDC expects to announce more cases this week.

The cases have been linked back to an 11-year-old boy who was at the camp. He had recently returned from the United Kingdom, where a mumps outbreak had spread to 4,000 people. Approximately 25 of the children were his bunk-mates, who then brought the virus home to their communities.

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Mumps is a contagious viral disease that leads to a painful swelling of the salivary glands. Symptoms include face pain, fever, headache, sore throat, and swelling of the face, particularly the temples or jaw. In males, additional symptoms can include scrotal swelling or a painful lump in the testicles. Once contracted, there is no specific treatment for mumps except for pain relief.

Mumps most commonly occurs in children ages 2 to 12 who have not been vaccinated, however the infection can occur at any age. The MMR vaccine – protecting against measles, mumps and rubella – is given twice in childhood. The first is given between 12 and 15 months of age. The second vaccine is generally give between the ages of 4 and 6.

The CDC states that about 75% of the children in this most recent mumps outbreak were vaccinated appropriately. However, the vaccine is not 100% effective. According to Dr. Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner of immunization, “We know that approximately one in every 20 people who are vaccinated may not develop antibodies.”

Recently, the MMR vaccination has been in the news due to the retraction by the journal Lancet that previously implicated the vaccine as a potential cause of autism. Some parents choose not to vaccinate children for this reason. Writing for the Jewish Action Online, a magazine of the Orthodox Union, Dr. Reichman, an associate professor of emergency medicine, philosophy and history of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, says that parents in the Orthodox Jewish community are no more or less likely to avoid the MMR vaccination for their children.