Community Health Notice

There have been recent cases of mumps reported across the United States and in Massachusetts at local colleges. We now have one undergraduate student with a suspected case of mumps at Brandeis. The patient is recovering and does not appear to be at further risk. The patient was isolated, and medical personnel believe that the isolation was likely during most or all of the time of infectivity. While spread may not be likely, the patient’s close contacts have been notified and are being monitored as well, with no sign of infection at this point.

Brandeis has a very high immunization rate which helps protect against broad outbreaks of infectious diseases but we do want to be sure you have some important health information. The following info from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health describes mumps and its symptoms.

What is mumps?

Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands caused by a virus.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are swelling and tenderness of salivary glands near the ear and back of the jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, and loss of appetite. About one third of all people who get mumps do not get swollen glands. The first symptoms usually appear 16-18 days after a person has been exposed to mumps, although it can be as long as 25 days after exposure.

How is mumps spread?

The virus that causes mumps lives in the nose and throat and can be spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. Touching tissues or sharing a cup used by someone with mumps also spreads the virus. People may be able to spread mumps from 2 days before onset of gland swelling through 5 days after onset of swelling.

How can it be prevented?

There is a vaccine to prevents mumps. It protects against measles, mumps, and rubella and is called the MMR. Most children over 18 months of age have received two doses of MMR vaccine. Brandeis requires a written history of two vaccines or blood titers proving immunity upon admission. MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. Two doses of the vaccine are 88% (range: 66-95%) effective at preventing mumps; one dose is 78% (range: 49%-92%) effective.

• All individuals with one dose of MMR vaccine should receive their second dose of the vaccine if eligible.
• Individuals with no doses of MMR vaccine should receive their first dose (unless they have laboratory evidence of immunity).
• Birth before 1957 is usually considered adequate proof of immunity for mumps, except for health care workers who should have two doses of MMR or laboratory evidence of immunity.

If you are concerned about symptoms or possible exposure please call the Brandeis Health Center at 781-736-3677 to discuss your risks and exposure time line and to schedule an appointment as needed.