Northern Exposure

This morning, I saw a map showing the spread of the mumps in Iowa (815 people and counting) and beyond. So far, 350 additional cases have been ...
by | April 20, 2006
 

Mumps_2 This morning, I saw a map showing the spread of the mumps in Iowa (815 people and counting) and beyond. So far, 350 additional cases have been identified in nearby Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

The rest of the county is clear--so far. But acknowledging a "cascade of transmission," CDC director Julie Gerberding says, "We really can't predict at this point in time where the virus will go next."

Indeed, my family visited the campus of Iowa State University last week, and now I can't help surfing the Internet for information on the disease's incubation period and symptoms, and wondering if one of us has unwittingly brought back the D.C. area's first case. Are my co-workers secretly thinking I should be quaratined? (Ironically, the only other non-Iowa resident on the ISU tour was also from Montgomery County, Maryland. So if mumps shows up in the local schools, maybe he'll be to blame instead.)    

While highly contagious, mumps does not pose a serious health threat to most people. But this outbreak certainly makes me wonder what's to keep a more deadly virus from spreading just as easily.

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