Thousands of cheerleaders have been warned about possible mumps exposure during a national competition in Dallas last month, Texas health authorities said.
The state has sent letters to participants at the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship, informing everyone that one of the attendees had the virus, NBC News reports. The mumps carrier was unidentified.
Over 23,000 athletes and 2,600 coaches were present for the contest held from February 23 to 25 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, with most coming from other parts of the country.
Mumps is spread through saliva or mucus of infected persons, and can cause a swollen jaw, puffy cheeks, headache, fever, loss of appetite and fatigue. In some rare cases, mumps can cause deafness of encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. There are mumps patients who also show no symptoms, but still carry the virus.
Studies have proven that vaccination against mumps helps control the spread of the virus. There is no treatment for mumps, but most people who get it recover completely in a few weeks.
Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said,
For the vast majority of people, the risk is very, very low.
He added that so far, there have been no reports of people catching the infection in connection to the cheerleading competition.
“Just to be on the safe side we want people to be on the lookout for symptoms. We want folks to be aware of it and looking out for those telltale mumps symptoms,” Van Deusen said.
The next few days will be telling, as mumps has a long incubation period. Cheerleaders and guests at the contest site who have received two doses of the mump vaccine are encouraged to get an additional booster dose of the MMR vaccine.
Antonio Aragon, a state health official, said, “If you, your child, or any other individuals linked to this event experience or have experienced mumps symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider and inform them of your exposure to mumps.”