Public health officials in Marion County are investigating an outbreak of the mumps virus.
Since the beginning of October, the county’s public health office said there have been a dozen suspect cases. Lab tests have confirmed four cases of the virus, county health officials said. Those infected are between 1 and 40 years old.
“Mumps is a vaccine-preventable disease," said Pam Hutchinson, director for the Marion County Health Department. "It’s required for kids going to school."
Hutchinson said those infected in Marion County were not adequately vaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon has the highest rate of non-medical vaccination exemptions in the country: More than 6 percent of Oregon kindergartners are not vaccinated. In Marion County, the exemption rate is slightly better, 3.5 percent, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Marion County still has vaccination exemption rates higher than the national average, however.
“We are always striving to improve it because it’s not as high as we would like to see it," Hutchinson said.
Mumps can cause inflammation in testicles and the pancreas. In rare instances, it can cause hearing loss. The virus spreads through sneezing and coughing.