7 cases of mumps confirmed at Houston ICE facility, Health Department says

HOUSTON – Seven people were diagnosed with mumps at a Houston U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility, the Houston Health Department said Saturday.

It said all seven cases are adult detainees.

Officials said one person went to the hospital for treatment, but the others received treatment at the facility at 15850 Export Plaza Drive.

“Since these individuals were isolated inside the facility during the period they were infectious, we do not anticipate these cases posing a threat to the community,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and emergency medical services medical director.

Those who showed symptoms were placed in isolation at the facility. Anyone who was around a person showing symptoms went to quarantine, where they stay for a certain amount of time until they can't develop the mumps, at which time they are released.

"We have every reason to believe that the individuals who are sick are still at the facility," Persse said.

The illness lasts about 10 days, like most viruses.

"We've been dealing with mumps for hundreds of years. It's a common viral illness," Persse said. "The number of seven is small, but for this community, that's an uptick and that's one of the reasons it has our attention."

The department is working with the facility on infection control methods and will conduct an on-site visit in the coming days, it said.

"We are working with the detention facility to make sure there is isolation and quarantine procedures in effect," Persse said.

Since 2014, there were two cases of mumps at the facility, both reported in 2017, according to Persse.

What is mumps?

According to health officials, mumps is a vaccine-preventable, contagious disease caused by a virus. It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite, followed by swollen salivary glands.

Those experiencing symptoms of mumps or any highly contagious disease should immediately contact their doctor. Most people recover from mumps without serious complications.

Mumps can be prevented with two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Children should receive the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Two doses of the vaccine are 97 percent effective.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people who received two doses of MMR vaccine according to the U.S. vaccination schedule to be protected for life.

“Properly vaccinating your children isn’t just about protecting your child. It’s about protecting your entire family and your community,” Persse said.

While rare, mumps outbreaks have previously occurred in the state and Houston region.