Mumps cases among Keystone Resort employees grow to 17

Nicole Miller
Summit Daily

DILLON — There are now 17 confirmed cases of mumps among Keystone Resort employees after the outbreak started with three cases in early February, according to Summit County Public Health officials.

The number of cases is expected to grow, but health officials say the public is not at risk.

“Mumps is not currently circulating in the greater Summit County community, and there is minimal risk to members of the public, including those who visited the ski area,” Summit County Nursing Manager Sara Lopez said.

Lopez said the county is working to limit the spread of the outbreak by reaching out to people who have “been in close contact with confirmed cases to evaluate their risk of exposure.”

Employees who have tested positive for mumps have been ordered to self-isolate at home during their infectious period.

“Our recommendation is that when people develop … jaw or cheek swelling, that they are to stay home for five days after the onset of that symptom,” Lopez said.

Public Health also hosted a vaccine clinic at Keystone Resort last week, administering 35 vaccines. Officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Vail Resorts hope to use the clinic as an example for vaccination clinics the resort plans to hold in the future, according to Lopez.

The county also is asking area medical providers to “heighten their recommendations for vaccination for Keystone Resort employees,” Lopez said.

Mumps is a contagious viral disease that causes pain and swelling in the salivary glands in the cheeks, along with fever and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease spreads through saliva, meaning it can be contracted through kissing, coughing or sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces. Mumps has an incubation period of 16-18 days and about one-third of people who have the virus don’t have symptoms, making it more difficult to track.

“It’s about as contagious as the flu virus,” state Vaccine Preventable Disease Unit epidemiologist Emily Spence Davizon said.

When asked about the spread of the outbreak, Davizon said health officials are working to reduce the “population at risk” by encouraging people to get vaccinated and to stay home if they develop symptoms.

“I think it is promising so far that the cases have been restricted to people who have close contact with one another,” Davizon said.

Outbreaks of mumps are relatively rare and usually occur among groups of people who live in close quarters. In April and May of 2019, six cases of mumps were confirmed among Arapahoe Basin Ski Area employees and people with whom they’d had contact. Statewide, 67 cases were reported last year, primarily in the Denver metro area, and were related to a nationwide outbreak among detainees in detention facilities, Davizon said.

Davizon said an outbreak is considered over once two incubation periods, or 50 days, have passed without any new cases being reported. The Keystone outbreak is the only ongoing mumps outbreak in the state at this time.

Lopez recommends people check their vaccine status to ensure they are protected against mumps.