Several University of Alabama students were recently treated for mumps. As a precaution, the Alabama Department of Public Health is reaching out to individuals who may have been in contact with those students to avoid the possibility of mumps spreading to others.

With limited exceptions, the University requires all students to be immunized against mumps and other infectious diseases. However, UA wants to make sure all students, faculty and staff are informed about mumps and what they should do if they think they may have mumps.

The risk of mumps can be significantly reduced with two measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines, which most people get as children. For persons who have not received two doses of the vaccine, the Alabama Department of Public Health strongly recommends the following:

  • Persons who received only one dose of MMR vaccine should immediately receive a second MMR from Student Health, their doctor’s office or county health department.
  • Persons who do not have any record of MMR either should at least get the first dose, or should not attend classes for 25 days after exposure to mumps. Tentatively, the 25-day exposure would end March 24.

What is mumps?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, mumps is a virus that can spread from person to person usually when a person coughs, sneezes or talks.  It can also spread indirectly when people with mumps touch surfaces without washing their hands, and then others touch those same surfaces and proceed to rub their mouths or noses.  Find out more at https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most common symptoms of mumps include low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen or tender salivary glands below the ear. Some people may have mild or no symptoms. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. If you think you may have the mumps, seek medical attention at the UA Student Health Center or University Medical Center, at the Tuscaloosa County Health Department, or through a private physician. Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.  Again, most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. Find out more at https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html.

Vaccinations

With limited exceptions, the University requires all students to be immunized against mumps and other infectious diseases. The UA Student Health Center also offers vaccinations for mumps. Students who are unsure if they have been vaccinated may contact the Student Health Center at 205-348-6262 or shc@bama.ua.edu to determine their status based on their student records. The student’s name, date of birth, and campuswide identification (CWID) number are required to access the information.

The CDC notes that vaccine recommendations for adolescents and adults are based on a variety of factors including age, overall health status, and medical history. The CDC website offers the Adolescent and Adult Vaccine Quiz online.  The CDC also offers a chart showing the recommended immunizations for adults by age and medical condition.

As with any vaccine, the immunization is not guaranteed to avoid virus contraction; however, it does greatly reduce the chance of contracting the virus and may lessen the severity of the illness.

Response from UA and Alabama Department of Public Health:

As a precaution, the Alabama Department of Public Health is contacting those individuals who likely had close contact recently with the students who recently recovered from mumps to determine if those individuals need to be tested.

The UA Student Health Center also offers testing, which can be given to those who exhibit a swelling of the glands below their ears.

With few exceptions, students admitted to UA are required to be immunized for mumps and other contagious diseases. Those who are unsure of their immunization status may contact the UA Student Health Center at 205-348-6262. Students also may receive immunizations at the health center.

If you have questions, call the Alabama Department of Public Health at 1-800-469-4599 or Tuscaloosa County Health Department at (205) 562-6900.

For additional information:

CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html

ADPH website:   http://www.adph.org/Immunization/index.asp?ID=2014

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most common symptoms include low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen or tender salivary glands below the ear. Some people may have mild or no symptoms. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks.

How contagious is mumps?

People with mumps are usually considered most infectious from a few days before until 5 days after the onset of parotitis (swelling of the glands). Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.

How serious is mumps?

In children, mumps is usually a mild disease. Adults may have more complications. See https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html.

How would I catch mumps?

Mumps is a virus that can spread from person to person via saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. The virus may also be spread indirectly when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and then someone else touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose. Mumps is less contagious than measles or chickenpox.

I’ve already had mumps. Can I get it again?

People who have had mumps are usually protected for life against another mumps infection. However, second occurrences of mumps can occur.

If I have been notified that I need to be tested, how quickly will I know the results?

ADPH will notify those individuals whose test results are positive within days of the test.

Will classes be canceled?

No, the students diagnosed with mumps have recovered and resumed normal activities. However, as a precaution, the Alabama Department of Public Health is reaching out to members of the University community who are believed to have had close contact with the students to discuss individual prevention and screening efforts. Screening for mumps is available at the Student Health Center for those who exhibit symptoms.

What if I haven’t been immunized and I don’t want to miss class?

If you have not been immunized and have academic questions, contact the office of Student Care and Well-Being at bamacares@ua.edu or 205-348-2461.

I may have had a class with these students. Do I need to be tested?

The ADPH is in the process of directly reaching out to students who are believed to have been in close contact with the students who had mumps.  However, as a precaution, anyone who believes they have been exposed to mumps should be screened if they exhibit the symptoms, particularly swollen glands.

How long will these students be contagious? Are they being quarantined?

People with mumps are usually considered most infectious from a few days before until 5 days after the onset of parotitis (swelling of the glands). Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.

Why weren’t UA students, faculty and staff contacted immediately?

The Alabama Department of Public Health promptly initiated an investigation into the students’ conditions, which included identifying those with whom the students have been in contact. Because the students’ diagnoses came so late in their contagious period and so few students were diagnosed, the attention was focused more on directly targeting those who were in contact with the students.

Students who were in the classes attended by the students who recovered from mumps have been notified that they need to be tested.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to the community to identify the students so others would know whether or not they had contact with the individual?

Federal privacy and HIPAA laws limit the amount of personal information the University may disclose.

As a precaution, the Alabama Department of Public Health has already notified and plans to test individuals who are believed to have had close contact with these students if they exhibit the symptoms of mumps. There is only a slight risk that individuals who have had contact with the students have been exposed to mumps.  Even individuals who are exposed to the virus may not get sick.

How common is it for people to get mumps?

So far in 2017, 27 states have reported infections in fewer than 500 people, according to the CDC.  There was only one reported case of mumps in all of Alabama in 2016. See https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html.

What do I do if I think I may have the mumps?

Go to the Student Health Center located at 750 5th Ave. East for evaluation and testing or call 205-348-6262.