By Keith Brown
The number of possible mumps cases linked to a popular Belmar beachfront bar continues to rise, county health officials said Monday.
The Monmouth County Health Department is now watching 36 people who may have contracted the infection, according to a release from the health department.
The cases under investigation include people who have or had mumps-like symptoms as early as August 3. Most of those being monitored have either been patrons or employees of D’Jais Bar and Grill in Belmar, the release says.
“Individuals are continuing to come forward to report mumps-like symptoms,” County public health coordinator Michael Meddis said in the release. “The median age of the individuals under investigation is 26. With the exception of one pre-school aged child, all of the individuals are adults and 39 percent of the cases involve females.”
D’Jais voluntarily closed its doors last week. The county health department provided cleaning and sanitizing recommendations to D’Jais management, the release says.
On Sunday, County Health Department nurses immunized 32 D’Jais employees with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Several D’Jais employees submitted immunization records that were evaluated for age appropriate MMR immunization, according to the release.
The Monmouth County Health Department continues to ask that anyone who is experiencing swelling of salivary glands along with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite should seek medical attention and call the Health Department at (732) 431-7456.
“If you believe that you may have been exposed to someone who has experienced mumps like symptoms, call the Monmouth County Health Department,” said Meddis. “Our public health nurses can answer your questions and evaluate your need for additional follow-up.”
Of the cases under investigation, people in Monmouth County are from Asbury Park, Belmar, Colts Neck, Farmingdale, Howell, Keyport, Long Branch, Matawan, Middletown, Neptune City, Tinton Falls and Wall.
People who reported hometowns from outside the county are from the New Jersey towns of Brick, Ogdensburg, Emerson, Fairfield, Jackson, Lawrenceville, Monmouth Junction, Point Pleasant, Saddle Brook, Waldrick, Warren, Whippany and Woodbridge, according to the release.
People who reported out-of-state hometowns are from New York City, Philadelphia, Straussberg, PA and Port Saint Lucie, FL., the release says.
The national Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that the mumps virus is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared, the release says.
“Healthcare providers and public health officials should remain vigilant for patients presenting with an illness clinically compatible with mumps,” Meddis said in the release. “To prevent the further spread of this disease, health care professionals need to continue to monitor and report every possible diagnosis of mumps.”
People who were vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine, as an infant and again between the ages of 4 and 6, are 90 percent less likely to contract mumps, according to the CDC.
If you have mumps, or most other illnesses, there are several things you can do to help prevent spreading the virus to others:
· Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands too.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
·Stay home from work or school for five days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live in your house.
Other recommendations are:
·Minimize close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
· Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
·Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.
Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared.
Most mumps transmissions likely occur before the salivary glands begin to swell and within the 5 days after the swelling begins. Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.
Anyone who presents such symptoms should contact their health care professional immediately.
More information about mumps is available from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html.