- Mumps, a highly infectious disease, has sickened 931 people in dentention centres across the U.S. in the past year, according to a new goverment report.
- Outbreaks of mumps happen when large groups of people are kept in close contact for a long period of time. American immigrant detention centres have been extensively reported to be overcrowded and cramped.
- Although most people recover from mumps within a few weeks, complications can include severe inflammation of the organs, including the brain, and deafness.
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More than 900 people in 57 immigration detention facilities nationwide have been infected with mumps, an incurable virus that causes flu-like symptoms, according to a new report from the CDC. Both migrants and workers are affected.
Mumps has been dramatically reduced in the United States in part due the same vaccine that prevents measles and rubella, known as the MMR vaccine. The disease has been spreading in immigrant detention centres since October 2018, according to the report.
A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that some migrants come from countries where diseases are less controlled than in the U.S. He added that all detainees are screened for infectious disease within 24 hours of arriving a an ICE facility.
While the outbreak is the first to be recorded at American detention facilities, 150 outbreaks of mumps have been reported since 2015, sickening 160,000 people, typically at universities and athletic events, the CDC report said.
Mumps is a viral infection that can spread through utensil sharing, coughing, and even talking
Mumps is a viral infection spread through an infected person’s saliva via coughing, talking, sharing utensils or drinking cups, or touching surfaces with unwashed hands.
Some people with mumps have no symptoms, or very mild ones. If symptoms do appear, it usually takes between 12 and 25 days after exposure for them to do so. At first, symptoms are flu-like and can include fever, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
The most distinctive sign of mumps is swelling of the saliva glands, which can cause the cheeks or jaw of a person to appear extremely swollen and puffy. This occurs in 31% to 65% of mumps patients, according to the CDC.
While there is no cure for mumps, most people recover within two weeks by resting and staying hydrated.
Occassionaly, however, the disease can spread to other areas of the body, especially in older adults, and cause severe inflammation. This can affect the testicles or ovaries and damage fertility, although it hasn’t been linked to sterility. It’s particularly dangerous for pregnant women and can cause miscarriage.
The virus can also spread to the spinal cord, brain, or both, which can be fatal, although this is rare. The swelling can also cause deafness, which can be permanent.
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