Privacy issues hindered mumps management

Dec. 7, 2012 at 7:39 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The management of a mumps outbreak on a California campus was hindered because of delayed access to students' medical records, federal health officials say.

A report published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said recognition and prompt reporting of clinically suspected mumps prior to laboratory confirmation reduces the risk of the contagious disease from spreading.

"A mumps outbreak occurred on a university campus without a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination requirement," the report said. "The presumed source case-patient was an unvaccinated student with recent travel to Western Europe. Although mumps was suspected, public health authorities were not initially notified because of student privacy issues and laws and as a result, outbreak management was hindered."

Before there was a vaccine against mumps, it was a common U.S. disease that caused complications such as permanent deafness in children. It occasionally caused encephalitis, which can result in death, although very rarely.

Before vaccine was used, more than 150,000 mumps cases were reported annually, although many more unreported cases occurred. A few hundred cases of mumps are reported every year on average, but outbreaks still occasionally occur.

An outbreak in 2006 affected more than 6,584 people in the United States, with many cases occurring on college campuses. A 2009 outbreak started in close-knit religious communities and schools in the Northeast, resulting in more than 3,000 cases of mumps.

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