By Lauren Wanko
The Monmouth County Health Department says the majority of people reporting mumps-like symptoms have either been patrons or employees of D’Jais Bar and Grill, a popular Belmar nightclub. This past weekend, the bar shut down.
“It wasn’t even suggested to us. We just thought it would be a good idea so that we could take stock of the staff because initially that’s how we started to learn about this thing. Some members of our staff were starting to come down with what they were calling mump-like symptoms,” said D’Jais co-owner Frank Sementa.
Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd says the Health Department hasn’t identified the origin of the virus. She says the DOH is working closely with the Monmouth County Health Department.
“At this point in time it’s an ongoing investigation and we hope to get a lot more facts around the circumstances by which it started and the individuals that may have be effected,” O’Dowd said.
“Potentially over the course of a holiday weekend, several thousand people that come through the door, you would think a customer brought it in, but it could have been that one of my employees was out somewhere, came in contact with somebody who was carrying it,” Sementa said.
With the exception of one pre-school aged child, all the individuals reporting symptoms are adults. Semanta says one the staffers infected with the virus already got the mumps vaccine, twice.
“One of my employees who came down with the symptoms and then, I think may be the only verified case of the mumps so far, she had the mumps vaccination when she was a child and she’s a school teacher so she got it again about five or six years ago,” Sementa said.
“There’s no specific investigation as to the effectiveness of this vaccine. That’s not the role of the Department of Health in New Jersey. But what we do know is that nothing is 100 percent effective and that’s why we try to get as many individuals vaccinated as possible,” O’Dowd said. “This is not unique to the disease of mumps or the vaccine of mumps. All different vaccines, nothing is 100 percent, which is why we try to encourage all individuals to be vaccinated so they’re protecting everyone and the community as a whole.”
Symptoms include swelling of salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. To help prevent the spread of mumps, health officials recommend people wash hands often with soap, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, don’t share drinks or eating utensils, regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched and stay at home for fives days after your glands swell.
As for D’Jais, Monmouth County Department of Health officials vaccinated employees there this past weekend and the bar was disinfected. D’Jais will reopen Friday night.