Eastern Illinois University Health Service diagnosed a small number of students with mumps last week. Evaluation and management of these cases has been coordinated with local and state health departments.
Mumps is a self-limited viral illness, which is spread through respiratory droplets, direct contact with infected fluids, such as saliva and through contaminated objects such as eating utensils and drinkware. The illness generally lasts for 10 days.
A person infected with mumps will initially experience non-specific symptoms such as low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. Approximately 48 hours after the onset of these symptoms, pain and swelling of the parotid glands (salivary glands in front of the ears) will develop. The swelling, called parotitis, can involve one or both sides of the jaw. Activities such as chewing can increase the pain.
The incubation period for mumps is typically 16-18 days but can range from 12-25 days. Persons infected with mumps are contagious from three days before through five days after their symptoms begin.
Mumps is highly contagious in susceptible individuals. Vaccination with the MMR vaccine, a two-shot series, is the most effective way to prevent mumps. 90% of people who have been vaccinated against mumps are immune to the virus.
Other measures to prevent the spread of this infection include frequent hand washing, avoiding unnecessary physical contact, shared eating utensils and other personal items and enhanced social distancing.
Individuals diagnosed with mumps will be asked to self-isolate during the contagious period, meaning they will not be allowed to attend class and will most likely be asked to return home to recuperate.
Students with signs or symptoms consistent with mumps should call Health Service at 581-3013 or 581-2727 before presenting to the clinic. Students will be examined and evaluated, but it is very important that they call in advance. Likewise, persons needing to receive care in an urgent care clinic or emergency room with mumps symptoms should call in advance to allow healthcare personnel to prepare for their arrival.
Eastern Illinois University Health Service will continue to work with local and state health officials and provide additional information as it becomes available.