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Two Mumps Cases May Be Result of Waning Immunity After Vaccines

South Dakota Department of Health

The South Dakota Department of Health has confirmed two cases of mumps in southeastern South Dakota. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed 30 cases in bordering parts of the state. Many of those Nebraska cases were traced to people attending a wedding. 

Avera Health Communications Coordinator Nathan Johnson says at least one of the mumps cases is in Yankton County, but Avera has not seen any cases at their hospital.

Mumps is a respiratory disease distinguished by swelling in the salivary gland just under the jawline. Other symptoms include a low-grade fever, muscle aches and headache.

Dr. Josh Clayton is the state epidemiologist. He says the biggest prevention method for mumps is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. He says many people have at least one dose of the vaccine.

“It has been kind of a standard childhood vaccine of two doses since the early 1990s, and so a lot of adolescents, teens and young adults do have two doses of vaccine.”

Dr. Clayton doesn’t know if the two confirmed cases in South Dakota are individuals with one, two, or no doses of the MMR vaccine. He says the vaccine does its job--

“But we do wanna have a focus of individuals realizing there’s some waning of immunity after their last vaccination. I think a little bit of that is what we might be seeing with these cases after they’ve been exposed.”

Other preventative measures include not sharing eating or drinking utensils, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling sick.

Dr. Clayton emphasizes that anyone with relevant symptoms—especially swelling along the jawline—should seek medical attention. The Department of Health is notifying individuals who may have come in contact with the state’s two confirmed patients.

Regional Health supports Education and Healthcare reporting on SDPB.