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Testing has confirmed a fifth case of mumps inside York County Prison, according to a York County spokesman.

The first four inmates diagnosed with the highly contagious virus have either recovered or are no longer in the prison, county spokesman Mark Walters said on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

There are no other inmates being tested at this time, according to Walters.

State Department of Health spokeswoman Brittany Lauffer previously told The York Dispatch that there must be at least five cases of mumps in a facility such as a prison for the health department to consider it an outbreak.

The state Department of Health is working with prison officials to investigate, according to Lauffer.

The mumps investigation in the prison began in early September, she said.

Lauffer said the Department of Health hasn't specifically identified how the infection made its way into York County Prison.

"That is something that is under investigation, and it's something we may never know," she said.

Inmates were vaccinated, she said, to protect from further exposures. Immunization isn't effective for people who have already been exposed to the virus, according to Lauffer.

There is no cure for mumps — "you just deal with the course of the infection," she said.

"Most people with mumps recover completely within two weeks," Lauffer said.

PrimeCare Medical Inc., the Harrisburg-based company that contracts with the prison to provide medical services there, continues to vaccinate inmates and prison employees, according to Walters.

About mumps: The disease starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most people experience swelling of their salivary glands, which causes puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.

Symptoms usually appear 16 to 18 days after infection. Some people who get infected have only very mild symptoms — or no symptoms — and may not know they have the disease, according to the CDC.

The mumps virus spreads through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose or throat, the CDC says, meaning it can be spread by coughing, sneezing, talking, sharing cups or water bottles, kissing and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

While most people infected with mumps fully recover, complications such as meningitis and deafness can result, especially in adults, according to the CDC.

Immunization key: There's no specific treatment for mumps, but the best way to prevent the disease is immunizing children with two doses of mumps vaccine, given when a child is about a year old or so and again when the child is between 4 and 6 years old, according to the state Department of Health.

In the 21st century, outbreaks of the disease have primarily been associated with schools, universities and other "congregate settings" where close contact is common, the health department's website states.

For more information about mumps, go to www.health.pa.gov and search for mumps or visit www.cdc.gov/mumps.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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