Health officials in Eastern Nebraska announced today a cluster of mumps among college-aged young adults enrolled at Midland University in Fremont. The Three Rivers Public Health Department says 10 cases to date.

Image/National Atlas of the United States
Image/National Atlas of the United States

A health advisory was sent to health care providers in Nebraska asking them to be on the lookout for cases of mumps and to contact their local health department about suspected cases.

Three Rivers Public Health Department wants the community to educate themselves about the symptoms, transmission, and prevention of mumps and to make sure he or she is fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine to prevent this virus from spreading. Mumps clusters can happen even in highly vaccinated populations. Annually the number of reported mumps cases can range from a few hundred to a couple thousand in the United States.

“Mumps is highly contagious so it’s important to practice good hygiene habits as that will help reduce illnesses. If you know someone who has mumps or suspect someone may have the disease, contact your physician or your local public health department,” said Terra Uhing Executive Director, Three Rivers Public Health Department.

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. Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps.

As of April 29, 2016, the CDC reports 727 mumps cases nationally.