L.A. mumps may come from N.Y. yeshiva boys

(JTA) — A mumps outbreak in Los Angeles may be related to an outbreak among yeshiva boys in the New York area. 

Nine mumps cases were reported in Los Angeles County since the beginning of the year, an unusually high number according to reports. There were seven cases in the entire county in 2009, according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, L.A. County’s director of public health, who said the high number may be related to a mumps outbreak that began last year mostly in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities of Williamsburg, Borough Park and Crown Heights.

Four of the confirmed cases occurred in the last two months.

More than 1,500 people in New York and New Jersey, mostly Jewish boys aged 7 to 18, were affected by mumps between June 2009 and February 2010.

A report issued last February by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the children with the mumps have high vaccination rates, but that the spread of the disease is likely due to the Orthodox Jewish community’s large families and exposure in boys’ yeshivas, where the boys study together up to 14 hours a day.

The mumps vaccine is not as effective as the vaccine for measles and rubella, according to the CDC. All three vaccines are bundled in one shot, which is given in two doses.

The outbreak has been traced to an 11-year-old boy who after returning last June from a trip to Britain, where he was exposed to a mumps epidemic, attended a summer camp for Orthodox Jewish boys in New York’s Sullivan County. The boy passed on the disease to campers and staff, who brought it back to their home communities.  

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