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Mumps update

October 16, 2015

Photo of someone washing hands with soapDeKalb County Public Health Administrator Jane Lux and NIU Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Eric Weldy emailed NIU students, faculty and staff with an update on reported cases of mumps at the university.

To our students, faculty and staff,

The DeKalb County Health Department and Northern Illinois University Health Services wish to update you on the status of mumps on campus.

As of today, the number of lab-confirmed cases of mumps at NIU is ten (10). The good news is that the number of cases is small and that the reported cases are currently contained to a well-defined sub-population on campus. In the days ahead we will be taking steps to vaccinate all members of that group in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.

After consulting with experts at the Illinois Department of Public Health, we are not conducting a large-scale vaccination effort on the campus at this time. The vast majority of the students, faculty and staff should be protected after receiving two (2) doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine during childhood.

However, we do strongly urge any students, faculty or staff who may not have been vaccinated – or who are uncertain of their vaccination status – to do so as soon as possible, either through their personal physician or through the clinic at NIU Health Services for students.

Mumps is spread in the same manner as colds and flu (via respiratory droplets and saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person) and the precautions taken against those diseases are also effective in reducing your chances of contracting the mumps:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue away after use.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If water is not near, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Do not share eating and/or drinking utensils.
  • Refrain from close contact with individuals who are sick or experiencing symptoms.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. (Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth). 

Mumps is an acute infectious viral disease that can cause swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands in the cheeks and jaw. Other symptoms include, fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. If you or anyone in your family has any of the symptoms of mumps, please contact your health care provider for further evaluation.

Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. The time it takes for symptoms to appear after a person is exposed to the virus can range from 12 to 25 days. In Illinois, persons with mumps must stay home until at least 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

Children and adults should be up to date with their immunizations. Children should receive the first dose of mumps containing vaccine, MMR, at 12 to 15 months and a second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. All adults born during or after 1957 should have documentation of one dose of MMR. Adults at higher risk, such as college or university students, health care personnel, international travelers and individuals who may been exposed to mumps should have documentation of two (2) doses of mumps vaccine or other proof of immunity. Persons born before 1957 are thought to be immune, since they were likely infected naturally. Please discuss your family’s vaccination history with your health care provider. It should be noted that while that while vaccination is highly effective, it does not provide 100 percent protection against the disease.

Individuals seeking additional information about mumps can contact the DeKalb County Health Department at (815) 758-6673 or NIU Health Services at (815) 753-8873.

Jane E. Lux, RN, MPH Public Health Administrator DeKalb County Health Department

Eric A. Weldy, Ed.D. Vice President, Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Northern Illinois University