Mumps outbreak hits N.Y. Jewish community

NEW YORK — The largest U.S. outbreak of mumps is sweeping New York, WPIX-TV reported Dec. 20.

At least 152 people in Rockland County have been diagnosed with the highly infectious disease since the summer.

Investigators have traced the outbreak back to a Jewish summer camp in Sullivan County, to a boy who unknowingly carried the illness over from England. Once camp ended, 24 infected children — mostly boys — took the infection home with them.

At this time, almost all of the people affected are part of tightly knit communities of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews.

Scores of people have come down with fever, headache and swollen glands in Monsey and New Square. Other cases have been reported in Kiryas Joel in Orange County and Borough Park, Brooklyn.

Of the 179 cases identified by the end of October, only 13 percent had not been vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine in early childhood. An additional 14 percent had only one of the two recommended MMR shots.

The disease is airborne, and is spread by coughing and sneezing. More serious symptoms can include deafness and encephalitis.

The health department is telling people who suspect they have mumps to stay home for five days.

Children who are not fully vaccinated against mumps are the highest risk of infection.