Multiple cases of mumps have been reported at campuses in South Carolina and the Chicago area. According to reports, Lewis University, Columbia College, Clemson University, Tri-County Technical College, and Loyola University are among the campuses that are affected.
Mumps outbreaks can occur any time of year. A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team, or living in a dormitory with a person who has mumps. Also, certain behaviors that result in exchanging saliva, such as kissing or sharing utensils, cups, lip balm or cigarettes, might increase the spread of the virus. In some years, there are more cases of mumps than usual because of outbreaks. The recent increase has been mainly due to multiple mumps outbreaks reported across the country in settings where people often have close contact with one another, like college campuses.
“It’s often passed by saliva. So it can be passed by people sharing utensils as well as people who are living in really close conditions, say a college dorm,” explained Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Those who have received the MMR vaccine — which stands for measles, mumps, and rubella — have a lower risk of contracting the disease. Typically, two doses of the vaccine are recommended (which is 88 percent effective) before a child enters school as a single dose (which is 78 percent effective) may not be effective enough. While the number of confirmed cases still appear to be low, the word “outbreak” is being used as the institutions have noted several suspected cases among students. This is why, as an extra step to control the outbreak, officials are recommending that students and staff members receive booster shots.
The viral infection is characterized by swollen salivary glands, which may cause the infected person to develop puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Apart from other flu-like symptoms, mumps can also cause pain when performing activities like chewing and swallowing.
How can mumps be prevented?
- Check your immunization record. If you have not received two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine or previously had mumps, you should call a health care provider to evaluate your needs. You may want to call or visit your home doctor or use University Health Service (UHS).
- Practice preventive measures, such as good hand hygiene (Wolverines Wash!), cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid direct contact with saliva e.g. kissing and sharing personal items like toothbrushes and bottles/cups.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick to prevent infecting others.
- If you have had close contact with someone with confirmed mumps, or if there is any reason to believe you could be at higher risk of infection, consider getting a third dose of the MMR vaccine.
Health officials are warning both students and visitors about their possible risk of exposure. Students, faculty, and staff are being urged to notify their healthcare provider if they become ill and develop swollen or painful salivary glands under the ears or jaw, or on the cheeks. Some common symptoms with mumps infection include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides.
Ref. MSN/lifestyle/medicaldaily.com, cdc.gov, lewisu.edu, uhs.umich.edu
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