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May 19, 2006

Although outbreaks of mumps are rare, several colleges in the United States have recently experienced outbreaks. The Fashion Institute of Technology will continually review and implement any CDC or Department of Health recommendations in order to be prepared for a possible outbreak.

The following information has been adapted from the CDC and American College Health Association to keep the FIT population informed about mumps. If there are cases of mumps infection on the FIT campus, this webpage will be updated with information and protocols. FIT will work with the local health department to isolate and deal with the outbreak.

Between 2005 and 2006, cases of mumps were reported in the state of Iowa, with most cases occurring among persons 18-25 years of age, many of whom are vaccinated. The first reported cases in Iowa were among college students and mumps cases have been identified in college students in at least one other state. Cases of mumps are under investigation in 8 neighboring states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin (

The current information indicates that the outbreak may have begun on a college campus. Colleges that have group living, dining, studying, and sports are areas that make disease transmission more likely, and increase the chance of outbreaks. Once started, such outbreaks sometime spread to the community, causing illness in persons who do not attend college. For this reason, CDC recommends that all college students have two doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Who can get mumps?

Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps. Before the routine vaccination program was introduced in the United States, mumps was a common illness in infants, children and young adults. Because most people have now been vaccinated, mumps is now a rare disease in the United States. Of those people who do get mumps, up to half have very mild, or no symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most common symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite followed by onset of parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears-on one or both sides).

In a small percentage of cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications such as meningitis, inflammation of the testicles, inflammation of the ovaries or breasts or deafness.

How soon do symptoms appear?

Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.

How is mumps spread?

Mumps is spread by mucus or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes. Surfaces of items (e.g. toys) can also spread the virus if someone who is sick touches them without washing their hands, and someone else then touches the same surface and then rubs their eyes, mouth, nose etc. (this is called fomite transmission).

How long is an infected person able to spread the disease?

Approximately 3 days before the start of symptoms until 9 days after onset.

What is the treatment for mumps?

There is no specific treatment. A person should seek medical attention if they suspect they are infected with mumps.

How do I protect myself?

Mumps vaccine (usually MMR), is the best way to prevent mumps. One dose of mumps vaccine prevents approximately about 80% of mumps and two doses approximately about 90% of cases. Other things people can do to prevent mumps and other infections is to wash hands well and often with soap. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol). Eating utensils should not be shared, and surfaces that are frequently touched (doorknobs, tables, counters, etc) should also be regularly cleaned with soap and water, or with cleaning wipes.

What should I do if I don't know if I've been vaccinated?

Get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe and there is no increased risk of side effects if a person gets another vaccination.

If I was exposed to someone with mumps, what should I do?

Not everyone who is exposed to someone with mumps will get sick. If a person has been vaccinated with two doses of mumps vaccine, it is very unlikely they will get mumps. However, if a person hasn't been vaccinated, it is possible they could get sick. Additionally, if a person hasn't been vaccinated, this is a good time to get another dose of mumps vaccine, and to make sure that everyone else in the house where they live is also vaccinated. Mumps vaccine has not been shown to be effective in preventing disease after exposure, but vaccination of exposed susceptible persons will reduce the risk of disease from possible future exposures. If symptoms develop (generally 16-18 days after exposure), the person should not go to school or work for at least 9 days and should contact their medical provider.

Will there be an outbreak at FIT?

Many different things affect whether or not an outbreak of mumps might begin in a school, but outbreaks can only begin when there are enough people in an area (school or community) who are not immune from the disease. The best way to prevent a mumps outbreak in a school is to make sure that everyone in that school has had two doses of mumps vaccine (MMR).

What can be done to stop the spread of mumps?

Anyone with mumps should not go back to school or work for 9 days after symptoms begin. People who come in contact with a mumps case should have their immunization status evaluated. Anyone who has not received mumps-containing vaccine (preferably MMR vaccine) should be vaccinated. The local health department or a physician can help determine if a person needs one or two doses of MMR vaccine. Persons who may have been in contact with a mumps case should be educated on the signs and symptoms of mumps disease and should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms begin.

This information was adapted from the American College Health Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For additional information, refer to the CDC website:
or call FIT Health Services at (212) 217-4190.

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