Health

Nearly 200 people in Texas immigration facilities contract mumps

Official: 'They should be in isolation'

Nearly 200 people at immigration detention facilities across Texas have contracted mumps since October, officials say.

The 186 patients range from 13 to 66 years old, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday.

Most of the cases were among detainees, though five workers also contracted the virus. The state health department does not believe that it has spread into the community.

Mumps is a contagious virus that is typically spread through saliva and mucus. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite and puffiness around the cheeks and jaw from swollen salivary glands.

A Houston facility reported 11 cases. Dr. David Persse, the city's public health authority, said he has received reports that some immigrants are showing up in court with masks on, running fevers and exhibiting symptoms of the condition.

"They should be in isolation," Persse said.

Persse urged US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to immediately start isolating people who show mumps symptoms and quarantine people who may have been infected.

"To some degree, this is foreseeable, because you're bringing a lot of people and housing them in tight spaces for long periods," Persse said.

All detainees receive medical, mental health and dental screenings within 12 hours of their arrival at detention facilities, per ICE policy. Minors receive vaccinations in line with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

ICE "asks these folks about vaccination, but many of them don't have any clue ... or have no paperwork," Persse said. "Some of them have never seen a doctor in their entire life."

Mumps outbreaks typically occur where people have prolonged, close contact with an infected person, according to the CDC. The agency recommends two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to remove outdated information about past reported cases of mumps in Texas.


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