Health Alert: Two Probable Mumps Cases on Campus

To: The Washington and Lee Community
From: Dr. Jane Horton, Director, Student Health & Counseling
Date: Feb. 13, 2019

The Student Health Center has recently identified two probable cases of mumps at Washington and Lee, and we want to alert all community members to use good preventive health measures, be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of mumps, and seek medical evaluation as soon as possible if signs/symptoms of mumps occur.

Mumps is characterized by swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of your face or under your jaw, along with pain on chewing, earache, fever, headache, loss of appetite, weakness and fatigue. It is still possible to contract mumps even if you have received the recommended two doses of mumps vaccine as a child.

Mumps is highly contagious through close contact, and is spread in droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes. Mumps can also spread by direct contact with saliva and discharge from the nose and throat of an infected person. It can take 12-25 days after exposure for symptoms to appear. People with mumps are contagious for up to 7 days before and up to 9 days after the onset of symptoms.

Following these common-sense practices will help minimize risk of mumps infection:

  • Do not share glasses, cups, cans or bottles with another person
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose; discard tissues
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly, and/or use hand sanitizer frequently
  • Clean surfaces frequently touched by other people (tables, countertops, doorknobs, etc.) with soap and water or disinfectant wipes.

Contact your healthcare provider if you are feeling ill and have any swelling or pain in the side of the face or jaw area. Students should contact the Student Health Center at 540-458-8401. Mumps is an illness that can easily spread and pose a public health threat/concern, so a college campus is especially at risk for outbreaks. It is best practice for those who are ill to "isolate" themselves from others to avoid the spread of this illness for the first 5 days of symptoms.

Additional resources: Please see the Virginia Department of Health's Mumps FAQ or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Mumps Questions and Answers for additional information.

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