Take precautions to protect yourself from mumps
By Madonna McDermott
Director, Student Health Service and Wellness Center
The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed seven mumps cases in Minnesota in 2006. Two of the seven cases may be linked to the large outbreak in Iowa. As of April 12, 2006, 605 suspect, probable and confirmed cases have been reported to the Iowa Department of Public Health with the majority of the cases involving individuals from 18 to 25 years of age. Earlier reports noted that approximately 30 percent of the cases in Iowa were in known college students.
Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid or other salivary glands. Most common symptoms include swollen glands in front of and below the ear, headache, low-grade fever and earache. It is spread when a person with mumps sneezes or coughs droplets into the air and another person breathes in the virus. Direct contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person also spreads mumps. A person with mumps can spread it to others three days before symptoms appear through about four days after, but is most contagious 48 hours before the illness begins.
There have been no reported cases at the University of St. Thomas; however, Student Health Service and Wellness Center recommend that all students, faculty and staff take necessary precautions to protect themselves and help limit the spread of the disease.
First, make sure your immunizations are up to date. Adults should have one dose of MMR and children two doses. Most Minnesotans under 31 years of age who attended school in Minnesota have had two doses of MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine. The University of St. Thomas requires that all students submit this information upon enrollment. Those over 65 are likely to be immune from having had the disease. Remember, however, that the vaccination is not 100 percent effective in preventing the illness.
Second, everyone needs to practice good respiratory hygiene: Cover your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or a tissue; wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; avoid close contact with anyone who has mumps; and stay home from work or school if you are ill. Last, be cognizant of those who might have mumps or whose family and friends may have been exposed; at the first sign of illness, call Student Health Service, (651) 962-6750, or their local health care provider right away so they can be evaluated.
Mumps frequently asked questions:
What is mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid or other salivary glands.
What are the symptoms of mumps?
Most common symptoms include swollen glands in front of and below the ear, headache, low-grade fever and earache.
What are the complications associated with mumps?
Up to 30 percent of all people infected with the mumps virus do not have symptoms. Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) is a common symptom in males after puberty. Rarely, swelling of the spinal cord and brain (encephalitis) occurs.
How is mumps diagnosed?
Mumps is diagnosed with a blood test specific for mumps antibody. Health care providers may also collect a nose, urine, or throat swab to further test for the virus.
How is mumps spread?
Mumps is spread when a person with mumps sneezes or coughs mumps virus into the air and another person breathes the virus in. Touching droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person also spreads mumps.
How long is a person able to spread mumps?
Mumps can normally be spread three days before symptoms appear through about four days after. Mumps is most contagious 48 hours before the illness begins.
What can be done to prevent the spread of mumps?
The best way to prevent mumps is to be fully immunized. Persons who have mumps should stay at home for five days after onset of swelling so that they do not spread it to others.
Is there a treatment for mumps?
There is no treatment for mumps, only symptom care.
Is there a vaccine for mumps?
Mumps vaccine is contained in the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Two doses of the vaccine are needed for long-term protection.
Minnesota state law requires that all children 15 months of age or older, in childcare settings or schools, be vaccinated against mumps or have a legal exemption.
Adults do not need the mumps vaccine if:
- They were born before 1957
- They had two doses of the vaccine
- They had mumps.