Information on Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands. People with mumps usually feel sick initially with nonspecific symptoms, such as headache, loss of appetite, and low grade fever. This is usually followed within 24 hours by swelling of the salivary glands, particularly the parotid glands in front of and just below the ears. Jaw and ear pain may be associated. As compared to children, adults diagnosed with mumps have more serious disease and more complications. Complications can include meningitis, orchitis, oophoritis, or mastitis (inflammation of the testicles, ovaries, or breasts), pancreatitis, and spontaneous abortion. There is no cure for mumps, only supportive treatment. Despite its potential to produce serious illness, the virus is rarely fatal.

Mumps is contagious. Transmission of the mumps virus occurs through direct contact with infected mucus or droplets from the nose and throat. It can be spread through kissing, sharing drinking or eating utensils, coughing, or sneezing. Because college communities tend to concentrate large numbers of persons in living, learning, and social environments, students in this population are at increased risk of acquiring the virus.

The best way to protect yourself from the mumps virus is through immunization. The American College Health Association and the Center for Disease Control now recommend that all college students have received two doses of MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) vaccine or have evidence of immunity through natural disease.

Student Health Services at Northwestern Michigan College strongly supports this recommendation. Though many college age students have received two doses of MMR vaccine during childhood, we urge all students to review their immunization status over the summer months. The effectiveness of the vaccine increases from 80% to 90% after the booster dose. Students having only received one dose of vaccine are strongly encouraged to seek access to a second dose through their health care provider or local health department

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