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Mumps cases detected at Polk County's Win-E-Mac School

Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Parents of Win-E-Mac School students are asked to be on the lookout for mumps—and keep up to date on their shots—after cases of the virus were detected at the end of the school year.

The Polk County Public Health Department sent a June 1 letter to parents letting them know that "cases of mumps have been confirmed in students at Win-E-Mac School," advising parents to check their vaccination records, watch for mumps symptoms, and—if they think they or their children might have the virus—consult a doctor and stay at home.

"Mumps is an infection caused by a virus," the letter explained. "The most common symptoms include swollen glands in front of and below the ear, fatigue, headache and low-grade fever. Mumps is spread by coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with the saliva of an infected individual.

"Symptoms of mumps usually develop 16 to 18 days after exposure, but may develop from 12 to 25 days after exposure."

The Herald was provided with a copy of the letter by Sarah Reese, director of Polk County Public Health. She said on Monday that the that Minnesota Department of Health had confirmed have three cases of mumps in Polk County, not all of which are students. Late on Monday evening, she noted that a fourth case in Polk County had been identified.

"To my knowledge, the three lab-confirmed cases were not vaccinated," she said. "From a public health perspective, the best way to protect ourselves is to protect ourselves with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, and the research suggests that the best way to protect ourselves from vaccine-preventable diseases is with vaccines."

Though Reese said there are people who can't have vaccines—perhaps because of immune system disorders—vaccination remains the best way people to protect themselves from illnesses like mumps.

"We do not have any medical evidence that would suggest that it is connected to autism, and we use the data from the Minnesota Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Reese said.

This story has been updated to correct the identities of individuals who have contracted mumps.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108