Information on mumps

by Bill Wyatt


Multiple cases of mumps have been reported to the Virginia Department of Health. Since early March, 45 cases have been identified to the Virginia Department of Health and as the investigation continues, additional cases are possible.  Several cases have been identified on college campuses in Virginia and neighboring states.  JMU has one confirmed case of mumps that is currently being treated.  Thus we want to provide you with information on this illness, the signs and symptoms, and the steps you should take if you exhibit any of the symptoms.

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the salivary glands, situated below and in front of your ears. This disease is contagious and is spread through close contact, such as when a person with the illness coughs or sneezes.

Mumps can also be spread when items used by an infected person are contaminated with saliva and are shared, such as cups, utensils or lip balm. A person with mumps is contagious from 3 days before the start of symptoms to 5 days after the start of symptoms.

This period between exposure to mumps and the start of symptoms is known as the "incubation period." On average, the incubation period for mumps is 18 days, but ranges from as early as 12 days or as late as 25 days. When signs and symptoms do develop, they may include:

  • Swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of your face
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing

There are several things you can do to help prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with warm soapy water.
  • If ill, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the disease to others.
  • Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
  • Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.
  • If ill, stay home and avoid close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
  • Check your vaccine records and be sure that you are up-to-date on your vaccines. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions about vaccination.

If you suspect that you or a friend has the mumps, please contact the University Health Center at 540-568-4514.

Source:  Virginia Department of Health

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Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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