Health District beats mumps in Mattawa

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EPHRATA — When a suspected case of mumps was reported and later confirmed in a migrant farmworker community near Mattawa in mid-April, employees with the Grant County Health District sprang into action.

“There were 150 migrants at risk for mumps without documents or the vaccine,” said Grant County Health Officer Alexander Brzezny.

Brzezny, speaking during a meeting of the Health District’s board of directors last week, said the district worked quickly to contain the outbreak after confirming mumps among the farmworkers — most of whom were in the U.S. on H2A work visas.

And after 16 migrant workers were vaccinated locally, Brzezny said the district decided to do a mass vaccination of everyone on-site. The farmworkers’ movements were restricted, four volunteers on-site were trained and vaccines were ordered, which arrived on April 24.

“We went out to do a mass vaccination on April 25 on site near the farm worker housing. 138 doses of vaccines were administered (in the first dose),” Brzezny said. “A month later, 164 doses were administered.”

Brzezny told health board members that one person suffered from an adverse reaction to the vaccine and was treated at the scene.

“The individual recovered on-site and showed up for the second shot,” he said. “He was indicated for exclusion.”

Brzezny said the GCHD staff should be commended for how quickly they organized a response to the one confirmed and three probable cases of mumps in Mattawa.

“A lot of things could have gone wrong but didn’t,” Brzezny added. “There were no secondary cases of mumps in Grant County. And that’s why we did all this.”

“Please let the staff know we appreciate them,” said County Commissioner and board member Cindy Carter.

In late 2016, a major mumps outbreak hit Grant County — part of a larger, statewide outbreak — but was largely contained at the Columbia Basin Job Corps CCC site in Moses Lake, where 44 of the 45 confirmed cases of mumps were located.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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