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Health officials warn about mumps outbreak in Utah

Vials of Priorix, Synflorix and Hexyon children's vaccines, which combat diseases incuding mealses, mumps, rubella and chicken pox, stand on February 26, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah state health officials are warning people who have not been vaccinated or who need a booster shot to get a Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination, in light of a growing number of mumps cases in central Utah.

State health officials say they have seen isolated infections in Salt Lake County and southwest Utah in addition to the central Utah cases.

Utah typically sees five cases of mumps in a typical year. This year, state health officials say they’ve seen 13.

Mumps in Utah

At a news conference at the Utah Department of Public Health today, Dr. Tamara Sheffield with Intermountain Healthcare worried the problem could get much worse.

“If we can’t contain those cases and keep them from exposing other individuals, we will see what’s happening in the rest of the country with measles where next week there’s another hundred [infected], then another hundred,” Sheffield said.

Currently, she said, there are no Utah cases of the measles. However, several neighboring states do have cases of the virus.

Sheffield says even a small outbreak of any infectious disease costs the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to contain.

Viral misinformation

Former Utah state epidemiologist Dr. Allyn Nakashima thinks more and more people are not getting vaccinated because of misinformation on social media.

“This may be one of the reasons why there’s so many parents out there who think that vaccines might have side effects or might be concerned that these are not very safe,” Nakashima said.

The health department also encouraged adults with compromised immune systems to ask their doctor about getting a second shot.

What is recommended?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends children get one dose of the MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months, then a second dose between ages 4 and 6. The CDC also recommends people who are going to be traveling internationally and do not have evidence of immunity get two doses of the vaccine, separated by 28 days.