A health official confirmed Thursday that there have been 25 cases of mumps in Cameron County this year.
County Health Director Esmeralda Guajardo said 21 of the cases involved people who traveled to another country and four had no history of traveling anywhere internationally. Two of those cases involved people who had no record of ever being vaccinated.
Guajardo said the group is a combination of immigrants who have been processed by Border Patrol, vacationers and people traveling to visit family.
“Last year, we had 33 cases. For us it becomes an issue when it becomes a potential to become a public health risk because people were not isolated or they went too long without seeing a doctor,” Guajardo said. “We don’t have that issue here in Cameron County.”
With the increase of immigrants arriving at the southern border — more than 100,000 last month — health officials aren’t surprised that there are as many cases as there are this year.
Guajardo said Border Patrol agents working at processing centers, detention officers and health professionals are all trained to spot symptoms of the mumps and immediately contact the county health department.
“They understand as soon as someone shows the symptoms of mumps that they call us,” Guajardo said.
Cases of viruses like the mumps are also a part of life in border regions, Guajardo explained, saying that law enforcement and medical professionals here are aware of that reality.
Hidalgo County has also seen mumps cases this year, with a total of 39, The Monitor in McAllen reported.
However, the newspaper reports that county health officials there do not link those cases to migrants in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody.
Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Director Eduardo “Eddie” Olivarez told The Monitor the cases there emerged in early April after a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student tested positive for the virus, which officials there believe is connected to two Mission gyms and limited to the McAllen, Edinburg and Pharr areas, though there are reportedly cases in the Weslaco area.
Olivarez said it takes 14 to 24 days for symptoms of the highly contagious virus, including fever, muscle aches, headaches, appetite loss and swelling of salivary glands in the jaw and neck, to appear.
As for Cameron County, Guajardo stressed that there is no public health threat.
“I would like to stress, some people might say that we’re not letting people know and the truth of the matter is we don’t want people to panic when there is no need for it,” Guajardo said. “We’re not in that situation, where this is a situation where we have to panic and things are not under control, and today, things are (under control).”