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Fifth school reports mumps in Fife school district

Jan 27, 2017

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received confirmation from a doctor today that a student at Surprise Lake Middle School has mumps. The student is not in school and can return when no longer contagious. This is the fifth school in Fife Public Schools with a mumps case during the current outbreak. In each case, students contracted mumps away from school.

“Since early December, the number of mumps cases in Pierce County has gone from just a few to more than 35 today,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “The virus continues to spread. Immunization is the best way to control the outbreak,” Turner said.

Because mumps is highly contagious among people who are in close contact for prolonged periods, it can spread easily and quickly in a school setting.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department recommends Fife Public Schools exclude unvaccinated and under vaccinated students from attending school. The exclusion at Surprise Lake Middle School will begin Feb. 6 and may affect 16 of the school’s 562 students. As soon as unvaccinated and under vaccinated children receive the required doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the district will allow them to return to school. The school contacted the families of these students.

In addition to the mumps case at Surprise Lake Middle School, the Health Department previously investigated mumps case at Endeavour Elementary, Discovery Primary, Columbia Junior High, and Fife High schools within Fife Public Schools.

To date, the Health Department has investigated mumps cases in the following school districts:

School District

Mumps Cases

Fife Public Schools


Puyallup School District


Tacoma Public Schools


In all cases, students contracted mumps away from school.

The vaccine is the best protection against mumps and is highly effective to prevent the virus and reduce outbreaks. Free immunizations are available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. The next time the clinic is available is Jan. 31. For a list of other dates and times and other immunization options visit

What is mumps?

Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness. An infected person can spread it through face-to-face contact by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. Mumps can also spread when people share cups and eating utensils. Mumps is a condition that health providers must report to the local health department when a probable or diagnosed case occurs.

What are the symptoms?

Mumps is best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, the result of swollen salivary glands. Other symptoms are:

Muscle Aches
Loss of Appetite

Up to 10% of teen boys and men can experience swelling of the testicles. Meningitis and encephalitis are rare but serious complications of mumps.

How can you prevent mumps?

Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Everyone should make sure they are up to date on their MMR vaccine. Children must have two doses of the MMR vaccine to attend school. Other ways to protect yourself:

Avoid contact with anyone infected with mumps.
Wash your hands with soap and water.
Don’t share cups and eating utensils.

Who is more likely to get mumps?

Babies less than one year old.
Children older than one who have not received at least one dose of the MMR.
Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.

Recent mumps cases in the region started with an outbreak in south King County. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department identified the first Pierce County probable mumps cases Dec. 9. On Jan. 27, the Health Department was investigating 11 confirmed and 25 probable cases. Find more resources about mumps at

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