Wednesday | October 18, 2017
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Mumps confirmed at Ka‘u school

A statewide mumps outbreak has hit a Ka‘u classroom.

A letter went out Aug. 15 notifying parents and staff to take extra precautions following the confirmation that an individual at Naalehu Elementary School had mumps, according to a document obtained by the newspaper. Staff and teachers were told to not come in if they had been within 3 feet of the unnamed student.

The student wasn’t named in the letter because of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requirements, said Principal Darlene Javar. She said all teachers and staff were at school Monday.

Javar said the school’s focus isn’t on that one person.

“We don’t just look at the one case,” Javar said. “There could be other undocumented cases. … What we’re really doing is promoting a healthy lifestyle.”

While the coconut wireless was buzzing with speculation that at least one other school had one or more students with mumps, a spokesman for the state Department of Health said in an email response Monday that the department’s not aware of it.

“DOH is aware of one new mumps case of an individual on Hawaii Island and does not have evidence of additional cases involving schools on that island,” said spokesman Dennis Galolo.

The names of individuals confirmed with mumps and their schools, homes or workplaces are not released by the state agency, he said.

The Health Department provides technical support to organizations and groups, including school principals, employers and other officials in the public and private sectors on the control and prevention of mumps, he said.

Healthy lifestyles include washing one’s hands and keeping immunizations up to date, Javar said.

An infected person can spread mumps by spreading saliva or mucous through coughing, sneezing or talking. Mumps also spreads through touching items or surfaces that have been touched by an infected person, and sharing cups or utensils.

People suspected or diagnosed with mumps should self-isolate and avoid going out and exposing others for nine days after onset of the swelling of the salivary glands, according to an update Thursday from the DOH.

People who have been exposed to mumps and are not vaccinated should not attend school, work or travel from day 12 through day 25 after exposure.

The numbers of mumps infections are increasing statewide, the Health Department said in its online update Thursday. The disease has been confirmed in vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adults. Approximately half of cases have been in adults age 18 years and older.

Since June 29, there have been a total of five confirmed cases of mumps reported on Hawaii Island.

There have been 229 cases reported this year on Oahu, 22 on Kauai and one on Maui.

Sharon Beck, principal at Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary School, did not respond to telephone messages by press time Monday.

There have been no incidences at Ka‘u Learning Academy, said Kamalani Fugikawa, the school’s office manager/registrar.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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