Alabama Department of Public Health officials recorded four additional cases of mumps among The University of Alabama community since Feb. 24, 2017, bringing the total to seven. While these additional cases have been discovered and the potential for exposure to the virus still exists, ADPH officials say they are optimistic that the cases will not become widespread.
However, as you prepare for spring break, please keep in mind the symptoms and signs of mumps and take precautions to avoid the virus. Health officials want to remind those who may develop symptoms while away from campus during spring break to tell their care providers to contact the ADPH at 1-800-469-4599 for information about testing.
“We know students will gather with friends and others from around the world during the break, so they need to know what to watch for and how to avoid spreading mumps,” said Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer with ADPH.
“And, as a matter of good health, students should make sure everyone in their family is properly vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, mumps is a virus that can spread from person to person similar to the way a cold is transmitted through coughing, sneezing or talking. It can also spread indirectly when people with mumps touch surfaces without washing their hands, and then others touch those surfaces and proceed to rub their mouths or noses.
The most common symptoms include low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen or tender salivary glands below the ear. Some people may have mild or no symptoms. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks.
According to Dr. Todd West, medical director of the UA Student Health Center, students who develop the secondary symptom of swollen glands — either before or after spring break — should get tested for mumps. Students may seek medical attention and testing at the UA Student Health Center, a private physician, or call the Tuscaloosa County Health Department.
The risk of mumps can be significantly reduced with two measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines, which most people get as children. For persons who have not received two doses of the vaccine, the Alabama Department of Public Health strongly recommends the following:
- Persons who received only one dose of MMR vaccine should immediately receive a second MMR from Student Health, their doctor’s office or county health department.
- Persons who do not have any record of any MMR vaccine should immediately take the first dose of MMR, or should not attend classes for 25 days to avoid being exposed to the mumps virus. Tentatively, the 25-day exposure would end March 24.