BOZEMAN, Mont. – It has been about a week since we first learned about a confirmed case of the mumps at a Bozeman elementary school.
City-County health officials and the school district are working together to stop the spread of mumps after one case was confirmed by a lab test at Morning Star Elementary School. Four other cases affiliated with the school have been diagnosed but aren’t confirmed by lab tests.
The incubation period can last two to three weeks. One telltale sign is swelling of the face along the jaw line. Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, and a headache.
Matt Kelley, health officer with the Gallatin City-County Health Department, says his department is doing all it can to protect students and stop the spread of the illness. Officials are working with parents of unvaccinated children on a case by case basis.
“One of those options the CDC puts out there is, kids can get a vaccine and they can go back to school, especially if they haven’t had a lot of interaction with a case patient,” said Kelley.
“Another option that some parents may choose is to not get the vaccine even after they know mumps is in the school. In that case we are asking parents—and I’m using my authority as health officer—to ask parents to keep their kids home for school not as punishment but as a way to protect those kids and protect from the spread of the disease in the school. We have kids in most schools that have medical conditions that made their immune systems pretty fragile and it’s our responsibility to think about those kids as well,” he said.
A letter was sent out to parents of students at Morning Star Elementary School to assure them the district is doing all it can to keep students safe. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rob Watson says only about 3.5 percent of students in Bozeman schools are unvaccinated.
“Students that are fully vaccinated are going to be fine in that environment. I don’t see any problem with that. It’s no different than taking your child to the grocery store or to a movie theater. There are going to be folks there that are sick or haven’t been vaccinated, but that happens. I feel confident in saying students that are attending school are safe,” Watson said.
Story by Patrice Parks, MTN News