CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Health Department officials say they have confirmed two cases of mumps in the Charlotte-area and area looking at another six suspected cases.
The two confirmed cases are reportedly in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties. The Mecklenburg County case was confirmed Tuesday and the health department says it was related to a previously confirmed case in Iredell County.
According to Dr. Stephen Keener with the Mecklenburg County Health Department, there are at least six other cases of "probable or suspected" mumps in the tri-county area, which consist of Mecklenburg, Iredell, and Cabarrus counties.
"Not every person that has been suspected, diagnosed, or who is a probable case is connected with every other case but there are some connections" Dr Keener told WBTV.
"Mecklenburg and Iredell County Health Departments are working together to quickly identify and investigate individuals who demonstrate symptoms that resemble those caused by mumps," a release from the Health Department stated.
The circumstances surrounding the cases in both counties have not been released.
Health officials said mumps outbreaks can happen even in highly vaccinated populations. Annually, they said, the number of reported mumps cases can range from a few hundred to a couple thousand in the U.S.
Mecklenburg County Health Department said in 2015 there were three cases of mumps - in a population of close to a million people.
Healthcare workers say 95 percent of children entering kindergarten each year have been vaccinated against preventable diseases.
Doctors believe most people born before 1957 are immune because they probably already had mumps, which they say is as good as being vaccinated.
But public health workers say they're still concerned for adults.
"One of the things that can happen is that the ovaries in women and the testicles in men can become infected. It's very painful, Dr Keener said."
"Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks," the release stated. "Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared."
Most mumps transmissions likely occur before the salivary glands begin to swell, and within five days after the swelling begins, according to the Health Department.
Anyone who demonstrates mumps symptoms including fever, headache, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, muscle ache, pain or discomfort, and tenderness and/or swelling of the glands below the ears should contact their physician.
There is no treatment for mumps - as antibiotics are not effective against a virus - but some medications can help relieve symptoms. Officials say the best defense is to get vaccinated and practice good hygiene habits like regularly washing your hands with soap and water, sneezing and coughing into a tissue or your elbow, and avoiding sharing when you or someone else are eating or drinking.
There are two vaccines that prevent mumps - MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) and MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Chicken Pox also known as Varicella) vaccines.
For more information about mumps you can visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.