Hidalgo County mumps outbreak may have link to Mission gym

An outbreak of the mumps in Hidalgo County may be linked to a Mission gym.

Mission called an emergency City Council meeting Thursday to address the situation.

City of Mission logo“A public health concern has recently been discovered by UTRGV. Although there has been discussion that this outbreak may have originated within our city limits, it is crucial to understand that this is a countywide matter,” said City Councilman Gus Martinez. “And, thus, the Hidalgo County health department will naturally take the lead in this investigation. Our job as the City Council is to provide any and all support to the county, assist in their directives and inform our citizenry of all material information needed to not only contain this matter but further ensure the safety and security of our community.”

After meeting privately with Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Chief Administrative Officer Eduardo “Eddie” Olivarez, the City Council authorized Mission to assist.

“I move to authorize the city of Mission to cooperate completely with the county health department,” Martinez said. “And to take action to review the health permits of the business or businesses alleged to be involved until it is remediated.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Members of the City Council didn’t identify the business by name during the meeting. Olivarez also declined to identify the business.

Two members of the City Council, though, said the mumps outbreak apparently had links to a Mission gym.

“Apparently there is an issue,” said City Councilman Ruben Plata. “Some people got sick.”

A University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student contracted the mumps — a contagious virus that causes fever, muscle aches and swelling of the salivary glands — last week.

Lab results confirmed the diagnosis at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. Five people with similar symptoms probably contracted the mumps too, Olivarez said, but lab results remain pending.

“We probably do have an outbreak of mumps in Hidalgo County,” Olivarez said.

The outbreak appears to be among college-age adults but doesn’t appear to be university-based, Olivarez said. The county isn’t aware of any evidence the outbreak is linked to migrants passing through the Rio Grande Valley.

“I don’t know if there’s a central, root source,” Olivarez said, adding that the location shouldn’t be a major concern for the general public.

The county Health and Human Services department is contacting the family, friends and partners of people who fell ill, Olivarez said.

“Outbreaks have most commonly occurred among groups of people who have prolonged, close contact, such as sharing water bottles or cups, kissing, practicing sports together, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps,” according to information published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Some vaccinated people may still get mumps if they are exposed to the virus. However, disease symptoms are milder in vaccinated people.”

Most people are vaccinated against the mumps as children. People who aren’t vaccinated should contact a physician.

Younger doctors may never have encountered a patient with the mumps, Olivarez said, adding that the county also urges doctors to test patients with matching symptoms for the virus.

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