Houston Health Department Investigating Mumps Outbreak At Harris County Jail

HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department is leading the response to a mumps outbreak at the Harris County Jail. The health department has confirmed seven cases of mumps at the jail, consisting of six inmates and one staff member.

“As with any infectious disease investigation, we are looking at the individual cases to identify possible contacts to ensure proper action is taken as needed to prevent this disease from spreading further,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and EMS medical director. “We currently do not have reason to believe this outbreak has spread outside of the jail.”

Jail medical staff first recognized a symptomatic inmate in mid-May. Shortly after, several additional inmates, including two jail staffers, started experiencing symptoms.

The Houston Health Department visited the jail this week to further coordinate response efforts, including the vaccination of jail staff and inmates, and isolation and quarantine guidelines.

“Given the inherent nature of a facility like a jail, with lots of people in a relatively small space, it’s not uncommon to see infectious diseases spread in this manner,” Dr. Persse continued. “The Harris County Sheriff’s Office acted quickly and appropriately when it became apparent there was a problem.”

Mumps symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and swollen glands under the ears or jaw. An infected person can spread mumps by coughing or sneezing and releasing tiny droplets of contaminated saliva, which can then be breathed in by another person.

The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine offers safe and long-lasting protection against mumps. CDC recommends children receive two dose of MMR vaccine, the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose 4 through 6 years of age.

“This is yet another reminder about the importance of proper vaccination against vaccine preventable diseases like mumps,” Dr. Persse said. “Proper vaccination is not only about protecting the individual receiving the vaccine, it’s about protecting everyone who comes into contact with that person.”

Two doses of MMR vaccine are 88% effective against mumps.