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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A mumps outbreak has hit Anchorage, with 13 cases of the infection being confirmed as of Sept. 25, state and city officials said in a joint news release.

This is Alaska’s first outbreak in more than 20 years, KTUU-TV reported ( Monday.

The current outbreak includes people between the ages of 14 to 58, state epidemiologist Amanda Tiffany said. About 60 percent of those people are among Anchorage’s Pacific Islander population.

Mumps outbreaks have been sprouting up around the country, leading state health officials to believe a traveler from outside Alaska brought the virus to Anchorage.

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the salivary glands and is spread by “coughing, sneezing, talking, and sharing cups or utensils,” local health officials said. Symptoms commonly include swelling of the cheeks and jaw, fever, pain in and around the ears, headache, body ache and testicular swelling.

Alaska’s last outbreak with 10 confirmed cases took place in Kodiak in 1995, according to state records.

State health officials advise that individuals call their health care providers before they seek care if they think they have the infection.

“We do that because these people could be infectious if they do have mumps,” Tiffany said. “Sometimes the provider will set a specific appointment so that the individual doesn’t have to wait in the waiting room.”

The mumps vaccine provides about 88 percent protection against mumps after two doses, Tiffany said.


Information from: KTUU-TV,