Massachusetts Mumps Outbreak

Jun 23, 2017 | Kristy Leker and Emily Cohn | Outbreak News


12 June 2017Massachusetts’ Public Health officials are now issuing a notice on the cluster of mumps cases within the state. Since the end of March, there have been 12 confirmed cases of mumps that have emerged in Eastern Massachusetts’ communities, such as Chelsea, Boston, and Revere [2].  According to the Massachusetts’ Public Health Department, 10 of the 12 confirmed cases have shown signs of mumps since May 9th  [4].

The last mumps outbreak in Massachusetts occurred in March 2016, with 252 reported cases, which is fifteen times higher than the average outbreak case size. A majority of the confirmed and probable cases had connections to higher education environments and evidence of previous vaccination of two doses of MMR [4].  

However, this current outbreak illustrates a different epidemiology than a typical mumps outbreak. All of the current confirmed cases have no connection to higher education institutions, and cases have all been within the local Latino community, including people of and from Colombia, Dominica, Guatemala, and El Salvador [3]. Massachusetts’ Public Health Departments believe that most of these cases have no history of vaccination, which has prompted an increase in vaccination campaigns among these particular communities within Massachusetts.

Luckily, the confirmed cases have not recently traveled outside of the country. So far, there has been no known connection or contact between the cases, except for the cluster found in Revere, which has the highest prevalence of cases amongst restaurant workers [1]. It is difficult to ascertain where this outbreak originated because unlike the typical mumps outbreaks in the past, this mumps outbreak is occurring with within the community itself. Outbreaks that occur within these communities are difficult to track because many cases go undiagnosed, since medical professionals do not typically suspect mumps, and cases utilize a variety of resources to seek care. Whereas, on college campuses there is usually one healthcare center to treat students, making outbreaks are easier to track.

Mumps also present another intricate problem in keeping an accurate measure of cases because the mumps virus can transmit disease before symptoms emerge [5]. Therefore, the general population can become infected and transmit the disease without feeling any symptoms at all.

As a part of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, the mumps virus has been a licensed piece of the infant vaccine schedule since 1971. With the two recommended doses of the MMR, the vaccine has proven to be 88% effective against the disease [5].  The mumps virus is transmitted through air droplets, spreading within three to six feet when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Although most of those infected with mumps fully recover, serious complications can occur when the virus infects ovaries, testes, pancreas, or the lining of the spinal cord [5]. For this reason, the Department of Public Health and local health departments consider instituting isolation and quarantine measures to control the spread of the virus when outbreaks start. The incubation period of mumps can range from twelve to twenty-five days; therefore, it is still advised for those who have mumps to stay isolated for five days after the onset of swelling [5]. Currently, doctors are being urged to suspect mumps, if a patient arrives with symptoms of swollen salivary glands and alert their local public health department [2].




  1. Donovan, Carol. "Revere Mumps Outbreak." Personal interview. 7 June 2017.
  2. Freyer, Felice J. "Puzzling Mumps Outbreak Strikes Latino Community." Boston Globe, 02 June 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.
  3. "Health Officials Warn of Mumps Outbreak in Massachusetts." U.S. News. Associated Press, 2 June 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
  4. Inc., Hearst Television. "Health Officials Warn of Mumps Outbreak in Massachusetts." WCVB. WCVB, 02 June 2017. Web. 14 June 2017.
  5. "Mumps." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 July 2016. Web. 13 June 2017.



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