The DeKalb County Health Department in conjunction with Northern Illinois University Health Services reports five cases of mumps in Northern Illinois University (NIU) students. The outbreak is primarily confined to a defined population. Lisa Gonzalez, Public Health Administrator, said that this does not come as a surprise due to pockets of outbreaks especially on college campuses over the past year. College campuses are susceptible to an outbreak of this kind due to their nature of being densely populated.
Up to half of people who get mumps have very mild symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps. The most common symptoms include swollen glands under the ears on one or both sides, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. Anyone with symptoms of mumps should be evaluated further by their healthcare provider. The time it takes for symptoms to appear after a person is exposed can range from 12 to 25 days. Persons with mumps should stay home until at least five 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 the second dose at 4 to 6 years. All adults born during or after 1957 should have documentation of one (1) dose of MMR. Adults at higher risk, such as university students, healthcare personnel, international travelers, and persons with potential mumps outbreak exposure should have documentation of two (2) doses of mumps vaccine or other proof of immunity to mumps. Persons born before 1957 are thought to be immune, since they were likely infected naturally.
Mumps is a viral disease and there is no specific treatment. Since mumps is spread by respiratory droplets and saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, prevention measures include these simple actions:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue away
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing; if water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner
- Do not share eating or drinking utensils
- Refrain from close contact with individuals who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
“As always, we are working with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the NIU Health Service on measures to limit the outbreak,” states Gonzalez.
While vaccination is very effective at protecting against mumps, it is not 100 percent effective. Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated communities, particularly in close-contact settings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in recent years, outbreaks have occurred in schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks.