School officials at Heartland Community College in Normal, Il. has seen four confirmed mumps cases, which has prompted Illinois state health officials to declare an outbreak.
In Illinois, when three or more linked cases affect a community, an outbreak is declared. An outbreak is a sudden increase in occurrences of a particular disease in a particular community, such as schools.
Illinois has been hit hard this year reporting 186 cases of mumps statewide, with 133 cases associated with the outbreak at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
In addition, Eastern Illinois University has reported several cases of the contagious viral disease.
Nationally, 310 mumps case have been reported to the CDC as of late August.
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 softdrink 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. Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps.