Mumps Resurgence on College Campuses

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Late last week, WTOP reported mumps outbreaks at three universities in Virginia: the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and James Madison University, with a few cases reported out of Baltimore at Loyola University.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is a contagious disease caused by the mumps virus. Mumps symptoms include:
  • Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Tiredness 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face (parotitis) 
Children in the United States are recommended two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, once at 12-15 months old and a second dose at 4-6 years old.

Children’s National Health System’s Infectious Disease specialist David Hyun, MD, told WTOP that while college mumps outbreaks may be linked to the vaccine’s effectiveness, vaccines are still our best source of defense while researchers collect more data about the vaccine’s longevity. 

"I don't think we know exactly how long the immunity from our childhood immunizations gives us adequate protection against mumps," said Dr. Hyun. "There is ongoing research looking at that exact question and trying to come up with answers."

Dr. Hyun’s assumption matches the CDC’s records, as in 2006, there was a multi-state mumps outbreak in the United States involving more than 6,000 cases, with most of these cases coming from Midwestern college students living in dormitories.

In a time of mumps outbreak, as is the case for some Virginia universities, the CDC suggests all students make sure they are up to date on his or her MMR vaccine schedule. If a student does become ill with mumps, see a healthcare provider, and avoid contact with other people until at least five days after your glands begin to swell.


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