Mumps: What You Need To Know
From Ronald Berry, M.D., Interim Director of UF Student Health Care Center
As you may already have heard or read, several cases of mumps have been reported among University of Florida students. The UF Student Health Care Center is partnering with the Alachua County Health Department and the UF Division of Student Affairs to monitor the situation and to share information with students regarding the virus and best practices for protection against it.
First, some basic information about mumps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
“Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then most people will have swelling of their salivary glands. This is what causes the puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.”
“Outbreaks have most commonly occurred among groups of people who have prolonged, close contact, such as sharing water bottles or cups, kissing, practicing sports together, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps. Some vaccinated people may still get mumps if they are exposed to the virus. However, disease symptoms are milder in vaccinated people.”
Also from the CDC website: “When you have mumps, you should avoid contact with other people until five days after your salivary glands begin to swell because you are contagious during this time. You should not go to work, school or any social events. You should stay home when you are sick with mumps and limit contact with the people you live with; for example, sleep in a separate room by yourself if you can.”
Although the usual incubation period is 16 to 18 days, it could take up to 25 days after being exposed for the symptoms to begin. A person may be contagious up to two days before they have symptoms of being sick.
The number of cases reported at UF currently stands at over 18, which is more than the one or two we normally see on campus each year. However, 30 cases have been reported statewide so far this year – exactly the same number as last year – and concentrations like the one occurring at UF are not uncommon. In addition, all cases at UF are in patients who have received the Measles Mumps Rubella, or MMR, vaccine.
Most UF students already have done the most important preventive measure by getting the MMR vaccinations. These are required vaccinations to be a UF student with a few exceptions. UF students who are enrolled in courses that do not meet in classes on a UF campus are exempted from proof of vaccinations and a few UF students elected to sign a waiver exempting them from the vaccination requirement for religious or personal reasons.
Even when it is not required, we encourage all UF students to verify their vaccinations and submit records so we will know your status should you be exposed to one of the infections and have to prove your immunity. If you are a UF student and have not already done so, please be sure to submit your immunization records to be on file; please submit records to the UF Health Compliance office via email: email@example.com or fax to 352-392-0938.
Finally, everyone should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be careful to avoid close personal contact with others who may be sick. If you think you may have symptoms of mumps, please call the Student Health Care Center at 352-392-1161 (or your assigned Team if known) and state you are concerned about mumps and you will be given an appointment to be checked.
How contagious is the mumps?
Outbreaks have most commonly occurred among groups of people who have prolonged, close contact, such as sharing water bottles or cups, kissing, practicing sports together, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps.
What can I do to prevent exposure to mumps?
We recommend that students limit exposure to mumps by taking the following preventative actions in their daily routines:
- Avoid exposure to possibly infected saliva: DON’T share drinks, food, (including cups, water bottles, utensils) and avoid saliva exposure through kissing.
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
- Cover coughs and sneezes (using a tissue or elbow method).
- Clean and disinfect shared surfaces (keyboards, desks, dining tables).
What is the University of Florida doing to protect current and incoming students?
The Student Health Care Center is currently providing treatment to all UF students testing positive for mumps. To best protect the rest of the student body, SHCC is coordinating with UF’s Division of Student Affairs to communicate prevention methods to the student body in an effort to limit exposure on campus.
If I am vaccinated, am I still susceptible to the virus?
The MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. People who have received two doses of the MMR vaccine are about nine times less likely to get mumps than unvaccinated people who have the same exposure to mumps virus. However, some people who receive two doses of MMR can still get mumps, especially if they have prolonged, close contact with someone who has the disease. If a vaccinated person does get mumps, they will likely have less severe illness than an unvaccinated person.
If I’ve already had the required 2 MMR vaccinations, do I need to get another MMR because of this outbreak?
A 3rd MMR vaccination is recommended for students who are directly exposed to someone infected with mumps. If you have been exposed to the saliva of a student diagnosed with mumps or are in prolonged contact such as sleeping in the same room with the infected student, you are considered at high risk and a 3rd MMR vaccination is recommended.
Additionally, anyone who is immunocompromised and is in the area of an outbreak may be advised by their medical provider to get a 3rd MMR even if they do not know of any direct contact with a person infected with mumps.
If I have recently been exposed to someone with mumps or have a medical diagnosis that may make me immunocompromised, how do I get a 3rd MMR?
If you are Gainesville and are in one of the 2 groups where a 3rd MMR is recommended then you may call the SHCC at 352-392-1161 (or directly to your SHCC Team, if known) and ask for an appointment to see a provider. Our Special Clinics Immunization Clinic cannot give a 3rd MMR without an order from a medical provider (since this is not a routinely recommended vaccination). If you are not in Gainesville you should contact your usual medical provider.
What if I have recently had contact with an infected student, or may be infected and decide not to get a 3rd MMR, what should I do?
All students who are in Gainesville and believe they have been exposed to mumps should monitor to see if they develop any symptoms. If they do, then they are encouraged to call SHCC at 352-392-1161 and indicate they believe they have been infected. If a student with symptoms of mumps is seen at the SHCC they will be tested and advised on how to treat their symptoms as necessary. If you are not in Gainesville, please contact your primary care physician.
Are the infected students quarantined?
Infected students are being instructed to stay home until at least 5 days after symptoms have subsided.
How severe is the outbreak at UF?
While the number of cases is higher than usual at our university, almost all of the students infected who have been seen have had very mild symptoms.
Should I delay admission to UF/not return to campus until this outbreak passes?
Just being on the UF campus does not pose a significant risk for any student to catch mumps, especially those who have been vaccinated as required by the university. However, we recommend that everyone coming to campus during this mumps outbreak follow the recommendations we have given about how to prevent exposure to mumps. In addition to specifically avoiding being around other students who are sick, since someone can be infected with mumps for a few days before they are sick in any way, we recommend that during this outbreak extra precautions are taken to avoid exposure to anyone else’s saliva in any way (i.e. sharing drinks and food).
If I am not vaccinated, is it too late to protect myself or should I get vaccinated now?
You can still be vaccinated. However, most UF students already have done the most important preventive measure by getting the MMR vaccinations. These are required vaccinations to be a UF student with a few exceptions. We encourage all UF students to verify their vaccinations and submit records so we will know your status should you be exposed to one of the infections and have to prove your immunity. If you are a UF student and have not already done so, please be sure to submit your immunization records to be on file; please submit records to the UF Health Compliance office via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 352-392-0938.
More information is available at the following links: