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School clinics stymie further spread of mumps

by Michele Catahay

Guam - With the number of mumps cases on the rise, the Department of Public Health is doing its part to ensure the disease doesn't spread any further. Public Health is conducting clinics at seven schools on island.

Public Health has received over 200 cases of the mumps reported since January. This happens to be the largest outbreak in the last several decades. According to Immunization Program Coordinator Annette Aguon, the mumps outbreak is affecting school-aged children from the ages of 9 and 14 in the northern and central areas of Guam. Because the disease is spreading in these areas, Public Health is conducting immunizations at seven schools to include Chief Brodie Elementary, Machanaoao, Tamuning Elementary, Astumbo Middle, Adacao Elementary, F.B. Leon Guerrero Middle School and Untalan Middle.

Aguon says Public Health is administering a third dose for students who have already received a second one.  "It's only because of another preventive measure for our ongoing outbreak we're having with the mumps and it's hopefully another way to prevent students from coming down with the mumps infection," he said.

The group conducted immunizations for students attending Astumbo Middle and Machanaonao Elementary today. She says so far, things have gone smoothly.  "It's been going pretty smooth in a matter of turning in consent forms and having it submitted to the schools. Guam DOE officials have been very supportive. We do have a team of doe nurses helping Public Health nurses as well as contracted nurses from our program to help immunize the students," she noted.

A majority of these cases are reported from up north where Aguon says has become a problem.  "It's highly populated there. We do have several cases where they have large households in kind of tight living conditions so with the mumps spreading through infected droplets, and being in close contact. There's an issue if there's sharing of an object like a cup or a bottle and that's how the mumps is being spread from one individual to another," said Aguon.

Public Health will be conducting immunizations at Adacao Elementary and F.B. Leon Guerrero Middle School tomorrow and then Untalan Middle on Friday. Parents are urged to have consent forms signed. For more information on the mumps and other outreach efforts planned to help with the outbreak, you can call Public Health at 735-7143.

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