Indiana health officials are putting the state’s mumps case count at 65 in Central Indiana, fifty at four major universities (Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Purdue University in West Lafayette, and Butler University in Indianapolis) and 15 community cases unrelated to any university outbreaks since February.
This has prompted the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to remind the public to check their vaccination records and to be aware of the symptoms of mumps.
ISDH has been working with the universities and local health departments since February to identify potential additional cases and to prevent further transmission of the disease. While mumps activity has slowed at IU, Butler and IUPUI, the Purdue outbreak illustrates how close contact, travel and other behaviors common in college environments, such as sharing drinks and cigarettes, can contribute to the rapid spread of disease.
“College campuses can be breeding grounds for illness because students are in frequent close contact in dorms and at social events,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “With events like IU’s Little 500 and Purdue’s Grand Prix coming up, it’s important for people to remember that the best protections against mumps are to get vaccinated, follow good hygiene practices and to stay home and seek medical advice if you experience symptoms.”
Mumps is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is spread through indirect or direct contact with an infected person’s nose or throat droplets, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes because of inflammation of the salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. Other common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. However, mumps can occasionally cause severe complications, especially in adults. Those can include encephalitis, meningitis, deafness and inflammation of the testicles, ovaries or breasts. Rarely, inflammation of the testicles can lead to decreased fertility or sterility in males.
People with mumps can spread the infection for up to two days before and five days after symptoms develop, so those infected can spread the disease before they feel sick. Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12 to 25 days after infection.
Children are routinely vaccinated for mumps at 12 through 15 months of age, and again at 4 through 6 years of age, before going to kindergarten. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that anyone born in 1957 or later who does not have evidence of immunity against mumps should have two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. People born before 1957 do not need to be vaccinated, unless they work in a healthcare facility.
Individuals who cannot verify two doses of the MMR vaccine should contact their health care provider. Hoosiers can also access immunization records directly through the secure online tool, MyVaxIndiana, by requesting a PIN from their health care provider. Visit www.MyVaxIndiana.in.gov to learn more.
If you are vaccinated against mumps, your risk of infection is low. However, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of mumps because even fully vaccinated individuals can contract the disease. The majority of the mumps cases reported thus far in the Indiana outbreaks involve fully vaccinated individuals.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of mumps should contact a health care provider. Be prepared to describe your symptoms and when they started and alert your doctor if you think you have been in contact with an infected person. If you are ill with mumps, remain home and away from others, especially unvaccinated infants, people with diseases affecting their immune systems and pregnant women.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 467 mumps cases through the first quarter of 2016. In all of 2015, CDC reported slightly more than 1,000 cases.