The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced August 30 that mumps has become a problem in migrant detention centers. Since September 2018, 898 adult migrants have had confirmed or suspected cases of mumps, a highly contagious disease that involves swollen glands, headaches, muscle aches, fevers, and fatigue, among other symptoms. Mumps has also spread to staff members in the detention centers, with 33 reporting a diagnosis. Over the past year, mumps has been found in 57 different detention centers located in nineteen states, with 44% of the cases located in Texas. The CDC reported that as of August 22, there are currently mumps outbreaks happening at 15 facilities located in seven different states.
Mumps spreads through contact with saliva and mucus, so outbreaks are common in crowded places such as schools, jails, or barracks. The disease can be contracted by sneezing, blowing the nose, kissing, sharing food or drink, or any other activity that might involve contact with another person’s saliva or mucus. Crowded locations such as these typically require all occupants or participants to have a standard level of immunization, but detention centers all have different requirements that are supposed to follow the laws of the state in which they are located. The specific state requirements governing the affected detention centers is unclear.
Mumps can cause more serious problems, particularly in adults, and most of the affected migrants are adult males around the age of 25. In males, mumps can inflame the testicles and cause sterility problems, which was reported in 15% of the affected. 84% of the affected migrants became ill while in the detention centers. Because of the serious nature of the disease, the CDC has recommended that everyone in the detention centers at risk of contracting the disease should be offered the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination.