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Important information about mumps cases off-campus

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) and Appalachian State University have confirmed three cases of mumps in Appalachian State University students who live off campus in Watauga County.

Appalachian State University, AppHealthCare and the North Carolina Division of Public Health are working together to investigate these cases and prevent the spread of mumps. To reduce the spread of the virus, it is important you are aware of the information below regarding mumps exposure and symptoms and promptly report suspected mumps cases.

What causes mumps?

Mumps is caused by a virus.

How does mumps spread?

The mumps virus is spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva or through sharing items like cups or utensils with an infected person. The risk of spreading the virus increases the longer and the closer the contact a person has with someone who has mumps. The average incubation period (from exposure to onset of illness) for mumps is 16 to 18 days, with a range of 12– 25 days. People with mumps are considered most infectious from two days before through five days after the onset of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Individuals with mumps usually first feel sick with nonspecific symptoms like headache, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever. The most well-known sign of mumps is parotitis, the swelling of the parotid salivary glands, below the ear. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. There are no medicines to treat mumps, but most people recover completely in a few weeks.

Prevention

Vaccination is the best way to prevent mumps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses are required for all Appalachian State University students unless the student has claimed an exemption such as religious beliefs. Those who would like to receive the immunization, may request it from the AppHealthCare office located at 126 Poplar Grove Connector in Boone (Student Health Services for Appalachian State students). Maintaining healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest and not having close contact with people who are sick, also helps.

Vaccination

Two doses of MMR vaccine are approximately 88% effective at preventing the disease; one dose is approximately 78% effective. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective.

MMR vaccine should be administered to persons without evidence of immunity and everyone should be brought up to date with age appropriate vaccination (one or two doses). Although MMR vaccination has not been shown to be effective in preventing mumps in persons already infected, it will prevent infection in those persons who are not yet exposed or infected. Those born before or during 1957 are considered immune based on likely exposure during childhood.

It is important to recognize that mumps can occur in vaccinated people. During mumps outbreaks in highly vaccinated communities, the proportion of cases that occur among people who have been vaccinated may be high. This should not be interpreted as meaning that the vaccine is not effective; people who have not been vaccinated against mumps are much more likely to get mumps than those who have been fully vaccinated. Clinicians should ensure that all healthcare personnel in their offices have presumptive evidence of immunity.

If you are unsure of your current immunization records, check with your primary care provider to ensure you have the recommended vaccinations. Immunizations are available through primary care providers and AppHealthCare, Alleghany: 336-372-5641, Ashe: 336-246-9449 or Watauga: 828-264-4995.

Appalachian State University students can access their immunization records at medportal.appstate.edu in three easy steps:

  1. Sign in using your university username and password.
  2. Select the “immunization” tab.
  3. Select “immunization history.”

This will allow students to view all immunizations they have submitted to Appalachian and all vaccinations administered by Appalachian’s immunization clinic.


Additional information is available at:

If you are not feeling well, or if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, please take steps to limit your contact with others. If you are concerned about symptoms you might be experiencing, you can contact Student Health Service at 828-262-3100 or AppHealthCare at 828-264-4995.

We will communicate with you as needed if we learn of any additional measures we should take to prevent additional cases of mumps in our community.

Thank you,

Jennifer Greene, MPH
Health Director/CEO
AppHealthCare
Appalachian District Health Department

Margaret Bumgarner, MBA, FACHE, FACMPE
Administrative Director of Student Health Services
Appalachian State University