Health Ministry unfazed by mumps

Outbreak has hit 3,400 haredi yeshiva students, most in J'lem.

haredim harvesting 311 (photo credit: AP)
haredim harvesting 311
(photo credit: AP)
There have been 3,400 reported cases of the mumps since January, 2,400 of them in the Jerusalem area alone – compared to six to 10 cases during an ordinary year, according to National Council for the Child chairman Dr. Yitzhak Kadman.
Kadman asked the Health Ministry this week for an explanation, since the mumps/measles/rubella (MMR) vaccine is generally given to protect children from the infectious viral disease.
Last November, the Health Ministry’s epidemiology department issued a directive about mumps, saying that within the two months before that date, there had been an outbreak of the disease, that 78 percent of the patients had been males aged 10 to 24 – and that most had occurred in haredi yeshivot in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Petah Tikva and Modi’in Illit.
The number of cases in kindergartens and schools has been small, Dr. Itamar Grotto, the ministry’s chief of public health, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“The origin of the outbreak was in haredi yeshivot in Brooklyn, New York and in New Jersey, but there are also reports of mumps out of Holland, England and Germany in recent months that had nothing to do with the haredi community,” he asserted.
“We are not worried,” Grotto added. “It is under control.”
The number of cases has been on the decline since March.
The ministry urges everyone to make sure children get vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, even though no vaccine offers 100% protection and this particular vaccine is less effective than others that protect against childhood diseases.
Most people who get the MMR vaccine at age one and age six are protected against mumps, Grotto assured.
The ministry has sent information in recent months to the haredi media and to rabbis and yeshivot.