Thousands of cheerleaders may have been exposed to mumps, say state officials

Elise Solé
Yahoo Lifestyle

Tens of thousands of cheerleaders from 39 states may have been exposed to mumps after attending a national competition.

On Wednesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) tweeted a March 2 letter addressed to the 20,000 cheerleaders and others who attended the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship from Feb. 23 to 25 in Dallas.

“If you, your child, or any other individuals linked to this event experience or have experienced mumps symptoms, please contact your health care provider and inform them of your exposure to mumps,” wrote DSHS rep Antonio Aragon, who could not be reached for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle.

The letter did not reveal the identity of the person who was first infected, although Chris Van Deusen of the DSHS told local news station WFAA that the individual was from out of state.

Mumps is a contagious viral disease that presents itself as a fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite about two weeks after it’s contracted, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can spread through coughing, sneezing, sharing cups, touching infected surfaces, or even talking.

It’s also possible for symptoms to be so mild that a person doesn’t realize they’re infected. In extreme cases, it can cause male infertility problems and brain swelling.

The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, is given during childhood, although it’s not foolproof. While there is no treatment for mumps, most people recover in a few weeks.

Cheerleading is a contact sport that requires teammates to jump, tumble, hold themselves and their teammates in precarious positions, and poses a high injury risk, accounting for more than 65 percent of a catastrophic sports injuries, according to Live Science.

And since cheerleaders often come into close contact with each other, it’s plausible that they’re more exposed to potential illness than other types of athletes.

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