Study: Orthodox Jewish males transmitted mumps in school

(JTA) – A mumps outbreak in New York and New Jersey in which 97 percent of the more than 3,500 cases were Orthodox Jews was a result of the way Orthodox boys are schooled, according to a new study.

A study on the June 2009 to June 2010 outbreak in New York City, two upstate New York counties and one New Jersey county home to a high percentage of Orthodox Jews appears in the Nov. 1  2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Adolescents 13 years to 17 years of age, representing 27 percent of all the patients, and males, representing 78 percent of patients in that age group, were disproportionately affected, according to the study abstract. Most of the boys had been vaccinated against the disease. 

Most of the boys that contracted the disease studied in Jewish yeshiva high schools, "where students spend many hours daily in intense, face-to-face interaction," according to the study abstract, leading to the mumps’ spread.

The study concluded that  "intense exposures, particularly among boys in schools, facilitated transmission and overcame vaccine-induced protection in these patients."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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