OLATHE, Kan. -- The Johnson County Health Department announced on Tuesday that a third case of mumps has been confirmed in Johnson County.
Mumps is an extremely contagious disease that most of us don't think about because we were vaccinated as children. But just because it's not that common now, doesn't mean that people don't need to be aware of the dangers.
Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands. People who get it develop what is sometimes called a chipmunk-like face, referring to the puffy cheeks resulting from the swollen glands on both sides of the face.
Health experts say there has been a 99 percent decrease in mumps cases in the US since the vaccine became widely available in the 1960s.
However, just because you have the vaccine does not mean you can't come down with the virus.
"Vaccine is normally done at 12 to 15 months and then again when kids start kindergarten. So if you're talking adults that get it, again it might be that the protections wanes over a certain amount of time. It's very individual though," Nancy Tausz with the Johnson County Health Department said.
The latest case confirmed Tuesday is tied to other cases out of the University of Kansas. The two earlier cases in Johnson County are tied to an outbreak at the University of Missouri.
The severity of the condition depends on the individual.
"Someone who has underlying medical conditions obviously would be more severe for them probably because they couldn't fight the infection as well as someone else, or a young baby that's not old enough to be vaccinated can be exposed to someone with mumps and it can be very serious for them, or an older person," Tausz explained. "Just really depends on each person."
Health officials said those cases are all adults.
The Johnson County Health Department said at this point, it is not recommended to get a third mumps vaccine or booster, but it is recommended to check with your health care provider to make sure you've received the appropriate vaccine.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this is the worst outbreak of mumps in the United States in a decade. A 2006 outbreak also started at college campuses and spread, the CDC says.
In the past month, 46 states and the District of Columbia have reported cases of mumps to the CDC. A map of mumps cases shows Missouri right in the middle of the area hardest struck.
There are more than 4,200 cases of mumps the CDC has recorded.
You can find more information at the Johnson County Health Department website, or call (913) 826-1200.