Mumps outbreak confirmed among Keystone Resort employees; risk to public is low
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the timing of a mumps outbreak last year at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
FRISCO — Three cases of mumps have been confirmed among Keystone Resort employees in Summit County, according to Summit County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Keystone officials sent the group of employees to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center late Saturday “out of caution,” according to Aaron Parmet, infection prevention manager at the hospital. It’s unknown how many employees visited the hospital, but Parmet said most did not have symptoms of mumps and none required emergency care.
Four Keystone employees were tested, and three of those tests came back positive, with the first case confirmed Tuesday morning. The fourth “specimen” was unable to be tested, according to Meghan Barnes, manager of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Unit at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Summit County Public Health Nurse Manager Sara Lopez said the number of confirmed cases could change as the investigation continues.
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“We’re very early still in the investigation,” Lopez said. “The situation is evolving and … it would not be unusual to see additional cases.”
Public health officials said there is “minimal risk” to members of the public who have recently been to Keystone, and there is “no known spread into the larger community,” according to a fact sheet emailed to the Summit Daily News by Lopez.
“We think mumps is more likely to be spread among people who are in close, prolonged contact with each other,” Barnes said. “… So people within the general community who have brief, passing contact are unlikely to have an exposure significant enough to develop mumps.”
Lopez said Summit County Public Health “routinely” investigates cases of infectious diseases and that the process involves “contact tracing,” or asking those who have contracted an illness for information about people with whom they’ve had close contact — including partners, family and friends — that could spread the virus.
Mumps is a contagious viral disease that causes pain and swelling in the salivary glands in the cheeks, along with fever and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease spreads through saliva, meaning it can be contracted through kissing, coughing or sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces. Mumps has an incubation period of 16-18 days and about one-third of people who have the virus don’t have symptoms, making it more difficult to track.
“It’s about as contagious as flu,” Barnes said.
Outbreaks of mumps are relatively rare and usually occur among groups of people who live in close quarters. In April and May of 2019, six cases of mumps were confirmed among Arapahoe Basin Ski Area employees and people with whom they’d had contact. Statewide, 67 cases were reported last year, primarily in the Denver metro area, and were related to a nationwide outbreak among detainees in detention facilities, Barnes said.
Lopez recommends people check their vaccine status to ensure they are protected against mumps.
Typically, children should receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — one between 12-15 months and one between 4-6 years of age. The vaccine is considered to be about 88% effective and can lose efficacy over time, especially for people with compromised immune systems. Adults considered at high risk should get a booster vaccine to bolster immunity if they have not gotten one as an adult, though the vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.
Adults born before 1957 are considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to be vaccinated, but other adults should make sure they have been vaccinated, according to the fact sheet.
Officials declined to say whether the three employees who had contracted mumps had been vaccinated.
Health officials are asking people who have symptoms of mumps to contact their health care provider or call Summit County Public Health at 970-668-9161.
Parmet said it’s important that patients call rather than go directly to a hospital or doctor’s office so that a “visit can be arranged in a way that prevents exposure to anybody else.”
Deepan Dutta contributed to this report.
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