There have been 3 confirmed cases of Mumps disease identified in La Crosse County, WI, according to the La Crosse County Health Department this week. The cases have been identified in students attending the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. The health department is working closely with UWL to prevent further spread of this infectious disease.

Mumps virus/CDC
Mumps virus/CDC

Mumps is a viral illness that affects the salivary glands. Mumps spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or shares drinking or eating utensils with someone who is not protected from mumps by vaccination or from life-long immunity from mumps disease.

The disease begins with a low-grade fever, headache, and muscle pain. Commonly the cheek and jaw area swell on one or both sides of the face and throat within the first 2 days of illness, this is called parotitis.

Mumps can cause complications, especially in adults – they may include: • Orchitis (swelling of the testicles in males who have reached puberty) • Meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord) • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) • Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty • Loss of hearing

Symptoms usually occur 14 to 18 days after infection. However, the time between infection and illness can be as short as 12 days or as long as 25 days. People with mumps are usually contagious from two days before to five days after they develop the swelling in their cheek and jaw. A person is most contagious just before symptoms appear. Because mumps is caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment for the illness (antibiotics are not effective). Treatment consists of supportive care with fluids, rest, and symptom relief medications.