The North Carolina Division of Public Health is encouraging North Carolinians today to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccines after seven mumps cases were identified in North Carolina residents in April.

North Carolina map/ National Atlas of the United States
North Carolina map/ National Atlas of the United States

Cases have been identified in Orange, Wake and Watauga counties. Among those affected are college and elementary school students.

On Monday, the University of North Carolina Campus Health Services reported a probable case of the mumps in a student.

Mumps is a viral illness best known for causing swelling of the salivary glands below the ears and above the jaw, called parotitis. Infection is spread by droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected person. In males, mumps can also cause inflammation of the testicles, called orchitis. A person with confirmed or suspected mumps should stay home from work or school and limit close contact with others for five days after the salivary glands swell, or until mumps is ruled out.

“The most effective way to prevent mumps is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Zack Moore, North Carolina State Epidemiologist. “Anyone who thinks they might have mumps should contact their physician and have appropriate laboratory testing.”

While it is still possible for people who have been vaccinated to get mumps, risk is much higher in those who are not vaccinated. The risk for complications from mumps is also lower in people who are vaccinated compared to those who are not.

Individuals unsure of their mumps vaccination status should speak to their physician to determine if they need a vaccine.

Practicing good hygiene can reduce the risk of spreading illness. This includes:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water
  • Covering mouth when coughing
  • Not sharing cups or food utensils with others