SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- The Arkansas Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of mumps in Springdale, the agency announced Wednesday (Aug. 31).
Springdale School District spokesman Rick Schaeffer said eight students from four different schools across the district have tested positive for the illness. The schools include Turnbow Elementary, Sonora Middle, Lakeside Junior High and Springdale High School.
According to ADH, This is the largest cluster of mumps cases in the state since 2010, but Schaeffer said most students and staff should be safe from contracting the virus.
"If you have been immunized, you are safe as can be," he said. "We have 31 buildings in our district, 27 of them have no cases whatsoever."
Schaeffer also pointed out the district has 27,000 students, so the students who tested positive for mumps are a very small fraction of the population.
In response to the outbreak, ADH is requiring students in school with vaccine exemptions for the MMR vaccine, which covers mumps, measles and rubella, to be excluded from school for 26 days from the date of exposure and until the outbreak has ended. The district said it will be sending assignments to the students.
Students with non-medical exemptions, who receive the recommend doses of MMR vaccine, may return to school immediately, according to ADH.
Schaeffer said all students are required to get a vaccination for mumps before they can go to class unless their parents submit a form claiming the vaccination is against their religious beliefs.
Currently, an additional four students have been dismissed from classes. The school said their refusal to be vaccinated due to religious exemption will leave them out of class for 26 days as well.
ADH is working with people who have potentially been exposed and contacting area clinics and hospitals to make sure they are aware that they may see cases of mumps, ADH said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is a viral illness that is transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets or saliva from an infected person. Symptoms include painful, swollen salivary glands that show up as puffy cheeks and swollen jaw. Boys may also have painful, swollen testicles. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscles aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite.
There is no treatment, and symptoms usually resolve themselves within a few weeks. Mumps is usually a mild disease in children, but adults may have more serious disease with complications.