Mumps outbreak may have entered Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles Times reports that a mumps outbreak on the East Coast may have crossed the country to Los Angeles County.

The newspaper reported on May 16 that there have been nine cases of mumps reported in the county so far in 2010. That number is already two higher than what was reported in all of 2009.

"I'm always concerned when we see an increase in what has become a rare disease," county health officer Jonathan Fielding told The Los Angeles Times.

Of the nine cases reported so far, four may be related to a far larger outbreak in New York and New Jersey. There, the Times reports, more than 3,100 probable mumps cases have been reported, mostly in the Orthodox Jewish community. It is the largest outbreak in the U.S. in four years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mumps causes fever, aches and fatigue, and can cause swelling in the cheeks during its course through the body, which usually lasts about 10 days.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Beverly Hills pediatrician Dr. David Keene saw two mumps cases involving a student who attends a private Orthodox Jewish high school and a two year-old whose uncle attends the school. Though, according to the newspaper, the Orthodox Jewish community has a high vaccination rate, the vaccine is not always effective.

"A lot of people went traveling at Passover, which was about six weeks ago. They went home and visited their friends with mumps, and three weeks later they got sick," Keene told the newspaper.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the New York outbreak began in June 2009. An unvaccinated 11-year-old boy visited Britain, where mumps outbreaks are frequent. The paper states he then went to a summer camp and spread the disease, which is transmitted by coughing and sneezing.