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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
October 8, 2019

Mumps in Migrant Detention Centers

JAMA. 2019;322(14):1344. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15663

Nearly 900 confirmed and probable cases of mumps have been identified in US migrant detention centers in the past year, according to a recent CDC investigation.

James Cavallini/sciencesource.com

According to the investigators, a total of 898 confirmed and probable mumps cases were reported in adult migrants at 57 detention facilities in 19 states between September 1, 2018, and August 22, 2019. Most cases occurred in men (94%). Of the 527 infected men reporting complications, 15% experienced swelling of the testes. Given the 12- to 25-day incubation period prior to symptom onset, the investigators concluded that 84% were exposed while in US custody, 5% were exposed prior to being taken into custody, while the time of exposure for 11% was unknown. There were ongoing outbreaks at 15 US detention facilities in 7 states as of August 22, 2019, according to the authors. Frequent transfers of migrants between detention facilities may be contributing to the ongoing spread, the authors note.

Since 2015, there have been 16 000 cases of mumps in the United States linked to 150 outbreaks, most of which have occurred at universities, schools, or been linked to athletic events, according to the authors.

“Detainees and staff members at increased risk for mumps should be offered [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine per existing [state and local] recommendations for vaccination during outbreaks,” the authors wrote.

The report is the latest to raise concerns about vaccination practices in US migrant detention centers. In August, CNBC reported that US Customs and Border Control said it would not vaccinate detainees against influenza despite the flu-related deaths of 3 children in custody. That news came on the heels of a memo from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General documenting dangerous overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at US detention centers in Texas.