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Mumps Safety and Prevention

Texas State Update:

 

As of May 11, 2018, four Texas State students have been confirmed to have mumps.  The two probable cases of mumps are now confirmed.  Three of the cases are related due to close contact.  No link has been found between these three cases and the fourth case.  The students, who were unaware of their mumps infection, attended classes and were out in the San Marcos community during the time they were infectious.  The university is working with the Hays County Local Health Department to identify and notify close contacts.  Faculty, staff and students that may have been exposed to mumps have been notified via their university e-mail address.  The Local Health Department has been notifying community contacts.  Potentially exposed persons have been advised to be vigilant for symptoms of mumps and to seek medical care if such symptoms should develop.  Persons with symptoms suspicious for mumps should first contact the doctor’s office and ask for instructions on how to access health care so that exposure to others can be reduced.  Faculty, staff and students may contact the Student Health Center at 512-245-2161 to schedule an appointment for mumps evaluation.  Based on a mumps incubation period of 12-25 days, new cases of mumps could develop through May 28th.

Preventing the Spread of Mumps:

If you have mumps, you can take the following steps to avoid spreading the virus:

  • Stay home and minimize contact with others, including household members
  • Stay home from school or work for 5 days after your salivary glands begin to swell
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing—do not reuse tissue
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Do not share drinks or eating utensils
  • Regularly clean surfaces that you frequently touch with a disinfectant wipe

Information About Mumps:

Mumps is a contagious viral infection caused by a paramyxovirus.  Mumps typically occurs in the late winter or early spring.  School-aged children or college-aged young adults tend to be infected most often.  With the implementation of a mumps vaccination program in 1967, mumps cases decreased by 99% in the United States.  However, the number of mumps cases increased significantly in 2016 and 2017.  While individuals who have not been immunized for mumps are most vulnerable, even those who have been immunized can be infected.

 

Mumps is highly infectious and spread by respiratory droplets or direct contact.  Transmission can occur through coughing, sneezing, kissing, sharing cups or utensils or touching surfaces that are contaminated with the virus. The incubation period is usually 16-18 days from exposure but can range from 12 to 25 days.  Individuals with parotitis (salivary gland swelling and tenderness below the ear) are most infectious from two days before to five days after the onset of parotitis. 

 

Mumps typically begins with symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.  These symptoms are then usually followed by salivary gland swelling and pain below the ears and jaws within 2 days.  Parotid salivary gland swelling can occur on one or both sides of the face.  Parotid gland swelling can persist for up to 10 days.  Some individuals may have mild or no symptoms.  Most individuals will recover completely within a few weeks.

 

Complications of mumps may include testicular swelling and pain (orchitis), pelvic pain due to inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis), inflammation of the linings around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), brain swelling (encephalitis) and loss of hearing.

 

Mumps may be diagnosed by obtaining a special swab of the inside of the cheek or blood tests for antibodies to mumps.  Timing of testing, both too early or too late, can affect test results.  Individuals who have been vaccinated for mumps may have falsely negative tests.

 

No specific antiviral treatment is available for mumps.  Management of the illness consists of supportive care, rest and the use of medication for fever or pain such as Tylenol or Advil.  Cold packs may be helpful for parotid gland or testicular swelling and pain.  Isolation from others during the most infectious period is important for preventing the spread of the infection.  Individuals should not return to school or work until after 5 days from onset of parotitis.

 

Immunization is the best way to prevent mumps infection.  Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at least 28 days apart are recommended for proper immunization and have been shown to be 88% effective in preventing infection.  However, immunity decreases over time. 

 

For more information about mumps, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html .