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No additional mumps cases confirmed on Big Island

August 26, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — Hawaii Island schools have not reported any new documented cases of mumps since last week, when a Ka‘u student was confirmed to have the viral disease, though it remains unclear if there are any additional undocumented cases.

Naalehu Elementary School sent out a letter Aug. 15 notifying parents and staff to take extra precaution after confirmation that one of its students was diagnosed with mumps. Staff and teachers were told not to come in if they’d been within 3 feet of the student. The student wasn’t named in the letter because of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requirements.

The state Department of Health has since paid a visit to the student’s house, Chad Keone Farias, Ka‘u-Keaau-Pahoa complex area superintendent, said Friday. The student was directed to stay home for two weeks, he said.

That two-week period began “on or around Aug. 15,” depending on the exact day the student was confirmed to have mumps, he said.

Since last week, rumors have swirled that at least one other student on the island was diagnosed with mumps. However, the DOH reported Thursday in its weekly online report of mumps cases statewide that no additional documented cases have been confirmed on Hawaii Island since Aug. 17.

As of Thursday, there were 27 new documented cases statewide — 25 on Oahu and two on Kauai. That brings the statewide total to 284, which includes five on Hawaii Island.

Naalehu Principal Darlene Javar confirmed Friday the school is not aware of any additional mumps cases on campus, though she realizes undocumented cases are possible. She’s been reminding students and staff to take precautions.

“It’s not possible for one child to get mumps out of the blue,” she said. “So it’s logic … I’m still reminding everyone to practice a healthy lifestyle. Even if this kind of dies down and goes away, I want to use this as a platform for healthy choices.”

When the DOH receives word of a new mumps case, it notifies the school and provides “technical assistance,” which includes sending letters home to parents, said DOH spokesman Dennis Galolo in an email Friday. Galolo said the DOH helps the school determine who the affected student might have come in contact with and advises about the proper length of time for the affected student to stay home.

He said the department also notifies the school to “not allow the student or staff person on campus until then,” although an official clearance from DOH to return to school is not needed.

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