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Mumps outbreak continues to spread

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A mumps outbreak that started in March in Majuro could be slowing based on official data from the Ministry of Health — but health officials warn the true number of cases could be as high as 3000 even though the confirmed and probable number is listed as 1033 as of late last week.

And with thousands of islanders from the outer islands, Ebeye and the US in Majuro for summer church conferences, the opportunity for further spread is increased.

It is the biggest outbreak of mumps in the Marshall Islands in decades and started up after a large outbreak late last year in the American State of Arkansas in an area where about 15,000 Marshall Islanders live.

In recent weeks, Hawaii State health authorities are reporting an uptick in mumps cases.

The Ministry of Health has stepped up its health outreach with the churches in Majuro — and is launching an immunisation push on several outer islands after delivery of thousands of vaccines to school children in recent weeks.

Last week's mumps report from the Ministry of Health shows that the number of confirmed and suspected cases dipped below 40 for the past two weeks, for the first time since the end of March when the numbers started climbing.

While still high it is a decline since the number in one week peaked at over 140 cases in late April.

But health officials suspect the true number of cases is under-reported and there could be two or three times the reported number of cases of mumps.

The ministry's June 10 outbreak report said 1033 probable and confirmed cases had been reported in the country, with 844 in Majuro and 193 in Ebeye.

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