PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - The mumps outbreak that started in Northwest Arkansas has now made its way into central Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health has said they're more worried about mumps than they are the flu this year.
Health officials on average only have 3 to 4 cases a year, but this year they are up to 769 and it looks like that number will continue to rise.
“We're aware of individual cases that are not associated with a cluster that have shown up in Pulaski County,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, the state epidemiologist for the Arkansas Department of Health.
They believe the cases are linked to those affected in Northwest Arkansas, but still stress that everyone is up-to-date with immunizations. The Pulaski County School District is already making steps to counteract the mumps outbreak in Arkansas. They said if the problem moves into the school system every child exposed to an effected student without the immunization will be dismissed.
“Any student with an exemption has to go home and be away from the school for a 21 day period of time from the notice of that first case,” according to PCSSD Superintendent Dr. Guess.
The district hopes it doesn't get to that point, but they're prepared for it. Parent Ashley Courson said this outbreak is a scary thing for her family.
“An 18 or a 5-year-old could be effected and they could take that home and affect the household so that is a pretty scary thing,” Courson said.
The Arkansas Department of Health said within the next few days they're expecting to release the exact number of people diagnosed with mumps in Pulaski County. The Arkansas Department of health also said the mumps vaccine is not perfect but it's the best tool they have.
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