Think the mumps is a disease that only people from your grandparent’s generation worried about? Think again! There has been a recent mumps outbreak on multiple college campuses across the country.
The reoccurrence of this contagious disease has caught many off guard. Here’s what you need to know about how to avoid getting sick yourself.
Return of the retro illness
There’s a vaccine for this contagious disease, right? So how come a mumps outbreak has been in the news? While typically most of us get the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) or MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella aka chickenpox) vaccines twice in childhood, the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. This means that mumps outbreaks can still occur, particularly in close-contact settings, like, you guessed it, college campuses.
CBS News reported, “A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that mumps are at a 10-year high. As of November, 45 states and the District of Columbia had reported a total of 2,879 mumps infections — more than double the mumps cases reported in 2015.”
College campuses affected
Multiple college campuses across the country have been affected, ranging from the University of Missouri to SUNY New Paltz to Georgetown University. Experts have said the mumps outbreak is most likely due to the vaccine either wearing off, or those who are infected never got the second dose of the vaccine in childhood. Two doses of the MMR vaccine is believed to provide anywhere from a 66 to 95 percent efficacy against contracting the mumps.
If you haven’t been vaccinated at all, you should probably be a bit concerned. You may also find yourself asked to move away temporarily from campus so as to not risk getting sick. College campuses may enact other precautions as well, such as cancelling events or offering immunization clinics. Greek organizations seem to have been incubators for the contagious disease on many of the affected college campuses. So, sure you can go to the next frat party, but I would recommend being careful and staying within your normal social circle. Exposing yourself to out-of-the-ordinary people and places could rock your immune system.
How to avoid the mumps
Now some colleges are recommending a third vaccine dose as an extra precaution—I know nobody likes a shot, but trust me you’ll like the mumps less.
Symptoms typically appear two weeks or more after infection, but it can be as short as 12 days or as long as three and a half weeks after you have been infected. The CDC shares the most common signs of the mumps on their website.
If you do develop the mumps, you will be the most contagious on the days right before and after any signs of gland inflammation.
Want to know how to avoid the mumps? Remember:
- Wash your hands regularly, cover your cough or sneeze.
- Don’t share saliva (I’ll let you figure out what all that entails).
- Avoid anyone who may be sick.
- If you think you are sick, visit a doctor or the campus health center.
- Stay home from classes and social events if you are sick.