LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Nassau County Department of Health says the number of mumps cases in the county has doubled in recent weeks.
As CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported, there are now 36 cases. The Health Department said it started seeing the virus in July.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is the illness – best known for causing swollen salivary glands – has been very mild.
“People are recovering, or recovered, fairly quickly,” said Health Department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain, who added that people are taking the cases seriously.
“The Long Beach community has been very cooperative,” she added. “They have posted signs … advising the public that there is an outbreak and people should take precautions, such as not sharing drinks, not sharing utensils.”
And those who live in the beach community, which is busiest in the summertime, say they are trying to stay safe.
“A couple of people have gotten sick,” said Long Beach resident Jeff Pliskin. “It’s not to the point of hysteria, but a lot of people are taking precautions.”
But some visitors are still just hearing about it.
“It’s nerve-racking for the public, and you definitely want to take more caution around the area for sure,” said Tyler Halpern, of Queens.
Long Beach isn’t alone. There have been several recent outbreaks at college campuses, also affecting young adults in close quarters. The average age of the people who’ve gotten sick in Nassau is 25.
“The epicenter seems to be in Long Beach, but there is potential for it to spread beyond that,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt of South Nassau Communities Hospital. “The major reason is because people don’t get vaccinated as much as they used to.”
Most, if not all, of the people who got sick were vaccinated.
But Glatt said the MMR vaccine that most of us get in two doses as children isn’t 100 percent effective against mumps, so there are outbreaks from time to time.
But he said it’s still critically important to have children vaccinated.
“The more people that get vaccinated, the better overall immunity there’ll be for the community, the less cases there’ll be and the less likely, if you do get a case, it will actually spread and lead to an epidemic like we have now,” Glatt said.
Health officials say if you did not get the vaccine as a child, it’s not too late to get it as an adult. If you were vaccinated as a child, there’s no need to do it again.
As to whether this epidemic is a new strain of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have to make that determination. But Nassau health officials say that’s unlikely.
The only treatment, like with most viruses, is rest and fluids.