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Thousands of Cheerleaders Are on Alert for Mumps After a National Competition

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Cheerleaders from 39 states may have been exposed to mumps at the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship last month in Dallas, Texas.

A letter sent to participants by the Texas Department of State Health Services warned that “you or your child may have been exposed to a person with mumps” at the championship, which was held Feb. 23-25. Officials told The Washington Post that about 10,000 people may have been exposed when a person from out of state with the virus attended the competition. No cases connected to the competition have been reported in Texas or out of state. But the incubation period has not come to a close.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus, and it can lead to swelling of a person’s salivary glands, resulting puffy cheeks and/or a swollen jaw, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mumps symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and fatigue.

MORE: Thousands of People Were Exposed to Mumps at a Cheerleading Competition. What Is Mumps?

“The time from being infected with the virus to developing symptoms can be as long as 25 days but is typically 14 to 18 days,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said in its letter. “People with mumps are infectious three days before to five days after swollen glands appear. Infected people without symptoms of mumps may still be able to transmit the virus.”

Officials are asking that those who attended the competition be on alert for symptoms until at least March 22.

The mumps virus is spread through “saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat,” the CDC says. This means that coughing, sneezing, sharing cups, utensils or other items, or touching a surface that has been exposed to saliva or mucus can spread mumps.

Mumps can be prevented by the MMR vaccine, which guards against mumps, measles and rubella. The vaccine is usually administered in two doses starting at 15 months of age and then between ages 4 and 6, according to the CDC. Adults and teens can also be vaccinated.

State health officials and the National Cheerleaders Association didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. A Twitter post from the organization lays out the scope of February’s All-Star Nationals competition:

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