Cedar Hill ISD parents concerned by mumps outbreak

Cedar Hill ISD officials held a forum Wednesday night to provide more information to concerned parents about a severe mumps outbreak.

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports 84 mumps cases so far in 2017.

Sixty-four of those cases are students and teachers in Cedar Hill ISD, with three more cases in to DeSoto. Health officials have also identified 17 unrelated cases in Mesquite, Dallas and DeSoto.

Parents at the meeting submitted questions. Many wanted to know how the mumps is spreading and why.

“You heard about the chicken pox, you heard about the meningitis, but the mumps you haven't heard about in so long, so you're kind of concerned, like can it cause death?” said parent Shomega Austin.

Austin has a daughter at Cedar Hill High School. Her child is vaccinated, but Austin is still concerned about the mumps outbreak that started at her child’s school.

“What are we doing about this mumps outbreak? Are we cleaning the building?” Austin asked.

District officials said the outbreak started at Cedar Hill High School in February.

Since then, more cases have been found at Ninth Grade Center, Collegiate High School, Permenter Middle School and High Pointe Elementary.

“When you get a bunch of kids all contained in small pockets of areas, like schools, the likelihood of spreading an airborne virus is gonna happen,” said Cedar Hill ISD superintendent Orlando Riddick.

Officials don't know the source but said they're doing their best to keep the situation under control.

“We've started our cleaning processes and cleaning high touch areas,” superintendent Riddick said. “We began to disinfect schools with a misting machine.”

The district has also hosted four vaccine booster clinics, saying more than 90 percent of their students are vaccinated.

The district’s health director, Dr. Michael Marshall, said infected people could be unknowingly spreading mumps.

“The problem is simply that people are coming to school who are infected with the mumps and they don't know it,” said Dr. Marshall.

According to doctors, it can take up to 25 days until symptoms like fever, headache and loss of appetite show up. Some who are infected have no symptoms.

Parent Anná Green said the district should be transparent about the outbreak.

“Just be transparent and make sure our building is clean and that it's safe for our children and teachers,” Green said.

According to health officials, those without the mumps vaccine are most at risk. Doctors recommend at least two vaccines, and even a third booster shot to increase protection. However, one can still get mumps even with the proper vaccines.