Mumps Outbreak Confirmed at Texas ICE Detention Facility

Houston health authorities Saturday confirmed seven cases of the mumps at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holding facility. The infectious period happened when the detainees were in the facility, and officials say they are hopeful the outbreak has been contained. They don't anticipate any threat to the public.

Houston EMS medical director Dr. David Persse said the city is working on infection control methods at the facility and will soon visit the center.

"Since these individuals were isolated inside the facility, we don't anticipate these cases posing a threat to the public," Dr. Persse said in the Houston Chronicle.

The mumps outbreak coincides with a recent measles outbreak in Texas and the Bayou City, which caused alarm earlier in the week. Of the six cases of measles reported this week, five of them were in the Houston area.

Both can typically be prevented with two doses of a mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccination — with a 97 percent effective rate. The first dose is generally given to an infant at 12-15 months of age, then a second dose between 4 and 6.

People infected with mumps will, within a few days, usually experience symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite, fatigue and eventually swollen salivary glands. Other than rare cases of heart issues, hearing loss and possible pregnancy complications, mumps patients often recover.

Infection is transmissible a week before symptoms appear. Once symptoms are gone, patients are contagious for another month.

Cases of the mumps have risen over the last few years in both Texas and the United States.

Prior to 2016, there were only about 1,000 cases annually in the country. That number in 2016 and 2017 rose to more than 6,000 each year. There were also more than 6,500 cases in 2006, a rarity for that decade.

The Centers for Disease Control reported 58 cases nationwide between Jan. 1-31 this year, with the highest numbers in Texas, Louisiana, Utah, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio and New York.

In the state of Texas, there were less than 200 cases in 2016 and 2018, with a sharp increase to 470 in 2017.