The National Cheerleaders Association took a moment on Twitter to brag at the scope of its national championship competition held in Dallas Feb 23-25.
NCA’s Nationals boasted 23,655 athletes and 2,600 coaches, making up the 1,320 teams from 39 states and nine countries, according to the organization.
But it was only later, when a case of mumps was found to have been among that mass of humanity at Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, that officials found out how viral (the bad kind) the competition could have really been.
Officials with the Texas Department of Health Services sent a letter to all attendees Friday warning all 26,000-plus that they might have been exposed to the contagious viral illness during the competition. One cheerleader who had mumps competed at NCA Nationals, according to the letter.
The competition ended 11 days ago, so anyone who might have contracted the virus still may not be showing any symptoms. It typically takes 14-18 days for the symptoms associated with mumps to develop. No related illnesses had yet been reported as of Wednesday, according to KTVT.
Those symptoms, according to the letter, include tender salivary glands, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue. Those who get the virus are typically contagious three to five days after the swollen jaw or puffy cheeks appear.
Mumps spreads through coughs and sneezes, as well as among people who have shared utensils or cups with someone who is infectious.
There is no treatment for mumps, and it can take a few weeks to fully recover from it.
This isn’t the first time an NCA cheer event has led to a mumps scare in North Texas. In 2016, according to KXAS, at least 11 cases of the mumps were linked to an outbreak surrounding four cheerleading competitions in Arlington, Frisco and Dallas.
According to the Center for Disease Control, anyone who contracts mumps should avoid close and prolonged contact with others for five days after the first onset of puffy cheeks or swollen jaw. Patients should not go to work or school during that time.
Mumps can be diagnosed by a doctor either based on symptoms alone, or by a blood test, according to the Mayo Clinic.