Idaho health officials are reporting an outbreak of the contagious viral disease, mumps, involving University of Idaho, Moscow students. As of Wednesday, November 19, 10 laboratory-confirmed cases of mumps have been reported, with over 20 additional reports being investigated, including two in the Moscow community.

Mumps virus/CDC
Mumps virus/CDC

This has prompted health officials to urge students to use the upcoming holiday break to check their vaccination records to make certain they are current for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination before they return for classes.

Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared.

Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection. It is usually a mild disease, but can occasionally cause serious complications.

The most common complication is inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems.

Other rare complications include inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis), inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty and deafness.

The MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps. Students who have not previously had mumps or who have no record of any doses of MMR vaccine should receive two doses at least 28 days apart; students who received only one dose of MMR vaccine should receive a second dose. Students can check with the University of Idaho Student Health Services, their primary care provider, local public health office or a local pharmacy about receiving an MMR vaccine.

In addition, Idaho health authorities advise anyone infected with the mumps virus should stay home for five days after symptoms begin, while minimizing close contact with other people. Infected people should avoid sharing drinks or eating utensils, cover all coughs and sneezes, wash their hands frequently with soap and water, and regularly clean frequently-touched surfaces.

From January 1 to August 15, 2014, 965 people in the United States have been reported to have mumps.

Outbreaks in at least four U.S. universities have contributed to these cases: Ohio State UniversityFordham University in New York University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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