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Health Alerts

The Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. Gary Goldbaum sends alerts via email to local health care providers. Alerts cover current local, regional or national health threats and important updates on medical care and protocols. Alerts are written as needed to cover urgent or emergent health issues.

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Testing for mumps

Testing for mumps

Action requested:  Follow appropriate testing procedures for mumps.


Mumps continues to spread through the community.  As of Tuesday, March 27, the Health District had investigated 15 laboratory-confirmed cases and 27 probable cases (i.e., having clinical signs and contact with a confirmed case); another 79 suspect cases remain under investigation.


Demand for testing is high, but to avoid overwhelming the Public Health Laboratory (& Health District staff), please follow these guidelines:

  1. Consider mumps when parotitis has been present for at least 48 hours.  Symptoms lasting less than 48 hours are rarely mumps.  If you strongly suspect mumps before 48 hours since parotitis onset and you believe testing could be indicated, we ask that you contact the patient once 48 hours has passed and confirm that the parotitis has lasted for at least 48 hours.
  2. When mumps is suspected, please contact Communicable Disease staff at 425-339-5278 before submitting specimens.  To help us determine if testing is indicated, please ask about possible exposures to someone else who may have had mumps.  Exposures at school are a special concern, so please ask students what school they attend.  In general, unless symptoms are classic, we need a compelling epidemiologic link to someone with mumps before RT-PCR testing will be authorized.
  3. The type of testing depends on timing since onset of parotits.
    1. Within 3 days after parotitis onset (when viral load is highest in oral secretions), only a buccal swab is needed for RT-PCR testing (performed by the Washington State Public Health Laboratory).
    2. After 3 days and up to 10 days following parotitis onset (as viral load declines in oral secretions, but persists in urine), both a buccal swab and urine specimen are needed.
    3. After 10 days following parotitis onset (when viral load has plummeted in both oral secretions and urine), submit serum to a commercial laboratory for IgM and IgG testing.

Detailed instructions for handling specimens submitted to the Public Health Laboratory are at


You can find my recent health alerts posted on the Provider pages of our website, at


Gary Goldbaum, MD, MPH | Health Officer & Director | Administration

3020 Rucker Avenue, Ste 306 | Everett, WA 98201 | 425.339.5210 |


Contact us

Communicable Disease


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Health alerts include information about diseases or other health risks or issues that affect Snohomish County.