Mumps In Texas: Thousands May Have Been Exposed At A National Cheerleading Contest


 
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By Gianluca Mezzofiore

Thousands of athletes, coaches and spectators who attended a national cheerleading competition last month in Dallas may have been exposed to mumps, state health officials said.

Approximately 230,000 people attended the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship, said C.C. Gonzalez-Kurz, public information officer for the city. More than 25,000 of those people were athletes and coaches, according to the NCA.

No illnesses linked to the championship, held February 23 to 25, have been reported so far, said state health spokesman Chris Van Deusen. However, the virus' shortest possible incubation period since that time only just ended.

"There's only a small risk for most people who were there, but we wanted to let people know so they could watch for mumps symptoms," Van Deusen said.

Mumps is a contagious viral illness with symptoms that include swollen or tender salivary glands, swollen or tender testicles, low-grade fever, tiredness and muscle aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but the period can range from 12 to 25 days.

The virus is spread through "saliva and respiratory droplets created when a person sick with mumps coughs and sneezes," Antonio Aragon of the Texas Department of State Health Services wrote in a March 2 letter sent to cheerleading gyms that sent teams to the event.

Generally, mumps symptoms last at least two -- but not more than 10 -- days.

'It would start happening around now'

More than 23,000 athletes and 2,600 coaches took part in the competition at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, according to the organizers. They hailed from 39 states and nine countries.



 
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