One student at UNC Charlotte has been diagnosed with confirmed mumps, a viral infection that may result in swelling of the parotid or salivary gland(s) near the neck and jaw. There has been an increase in the number of mumps cases in the United States and the Charlotte region. Public health officials are working closely with the UNC Charlotte officials to identify close and classroom contacts, encourage vaccination of all unvaccinated or under-vaccinated students, faculty and staff, and test persons with suspected infection.

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

Mumps is spread through indirect or direct contact with an infected person’s nose or throat droplets (saliva or mucus), such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  People with mumps can spread it for up to two days before and five days after swelling develops. To prevent the spread of this virus, wash your hands frequently; don’t share beverages, eating utensils or cigarettes; cover your cough and sneeze; and avoid close contact with ill individuals.

Early symptoms are non-specific, and include muscle aches, lack of appetite, malaise, headache, and low-grade fever. Parotitis (swelling of the parotid glands) tends to occur within the first 2 days and may be first noted as earache and tenderness on palpation of the angle of the jaw.  Symptoms tend to decrease after 1 week.  The symptoms may start anywhere from 12-25 days after exposure. Persons who may have mumps infection must stay home for 5 days after the onset of swelling.  If you are vaccinated, your risk of infection is lower; however, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms because even fully vaccinated individuals can contract the disease. Mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults.  Complications include inflammation of the testicles, brain, tissue covering the brain, ovaries, breasts and deafness.

Related: North Carolina: 1st Zika case, Mumps update

High vaccination coverage in the community and school helps limit the spread of mumps.  MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine prevents most, but not all cases of mumps. A single dose of mumps vaccine is estimated to be 78% effective, while two doses are about 88% effective at preventing mumps. Students born after 1957 are required to have written documentation of 2 doses of mumps vaccines. Written documentation of at least one dose of MMR vaccine is recommended for all adults born after 1957.

Persons with parotid swelling should avoid close contact with others, call ahead to their medical provider and wear a mask while in the waiting room.  Any students, faculty or staff who develop parotid swelling should notify their health care provider or telephone Freda Grant, RN with the Mecklenburg County Health Department 704-336-6436 or the UNC Charlotte Health Center at 704-687-7400.