IRL catches the mumps!

The Indy Racing League has notified the Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a member of the IndyCar Series community has been diagnosed with mumps. The individual has been isolated and will not attend this week’s event in Nashville. League officials were required by law to report the case to health officials.

            Mumps is a viral illness affecting glands that produce saliva. It is highly contagious, but rarely serious. Symptoms of mumps include: fever, fatigue, headache, pain below the ears, swelling and tenderness along the jaw and in front of and below the ear(s), or possible swelling of the testicles in males !

            League officials held a conference call for teams, drivers and suppliers and informed its employees of the case. As a precaution, the League is asking that some IRL members who may have been in contact with the individual with mumps provide documentation that they have been immunized against mumps or had mumps in the past. If such documentation is not available, League officials will be conducting blood tests of appropriate IRL members in Nashville this weekend to assess their immunity to mumps.

            “We are pro-actively working with the appropriate governmental health agencies and the entire IndyCar Series community to inform them about mumps and to take proper precautions,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League. “We do not anticipate anyone attending this week’s event being at risk because the contagious period does not fall within the weekend.”

            According to state health officials, the mumps virus is spread by contact with saliva or droplets that are released through the nose or mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Persons with mumps should stay home from child care, school or work during the contagious period to prevent spreading the disease. The contagious period is three days before and five days after the appearance of symptoms.

            “Mumps is only transmitted through close contact with an individual with the disease, so members of the general public who attended recent IRL events do not need to be concerned,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., medical director for Immunizations at the Indiana State Department of Health. “The IRL has taken all the appropriate steps to prevent the spread of mumps and to protect the health of teams, drivers and suppliers. I applaud how proactive Mr. Barnhart and his colleagues have been in addressing this issue, but again, the general public does not need to be concerned.”

            State health officials say there is no treatment for mumps. Bed rest, a soft diet (because it is painful to chew), and pain reliever for headaches and muscle aches are often recommended. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and effective for preventing mumps infection, but is not effective once someone has been exposed to the disease.

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