LONG BEACH, Long Island (WABC) --An increase in mumps cases in Long Beach and nearby communities is under investigation.
Mumps is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus transmitted through droplets of an infected person's cough, sneeze or saliva, or from direct contact with an infected surface.
"The most important thing is we're on top of it; we've identified the early cases," said Dr. Josh Kugler, South Nassau Communities Hospital ER Chairman.
Health officials in Long Beach say proper precautions are being taken. They urge anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the mumps to make sure they've had both the shots in the MMR series.
So far in the area, there have been 18 suspected cases, most of them in young adults, and additional cases are expected.
Mumps outbreaks around the country are certainly not that unusual.
"Some of them are very small, just a handful of cases. There have been outbreaks of hundreds of cases. We're trying to prevent this from getting larger," said Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County Health Commissioner.
That means knowing your vaccination history.
Officials say the vaccine offers the best protection, despite the fact that some of those who've gotten sick also got vaccinated.
"It's a very safe vaccine, and at the same time it's not going to be perfect. It's going to be less perfect the more people don't take advantage of this vaccine," said Dr. Aaron Glatt, an Epidemiologist.
Mumps is best known for puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw caused by inflammation of the salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. There is no treatment.
People with symptoms of mumps should stay home for a minimum of five days after the onset of symptoms.
To prevent mumps:
-- Do not share drinks, food, eating utensils or other personal items that may contain saliva.
-- Individuals with symptoms should stay away from public places for five days after the onset of symptoms.
-- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
-- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze.
-- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
Click here for additional information about the mumps.