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March 21, 2016

Mumps Suspected at University of Buffalo

The University of Buffalo is working with the Erie County Health Department to investigate suspected cases of mumps among a small group of college students that attend the university. Mumps is a contagious viral illness that can be spread, by those infected with mumps, by coughing, sneezing, talking, and sharing eating utensils or cups.

Mumps is best known for its puffy cheek characteristic, which is caused by the swelling of salivary glands found in the neck, below the ears. Swelling may occur on one side of the neck or both. Additional signs and symptoms include, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Symptoms generally occur 12 to 25 days after infection. Those infected with mumps are likely to spread the virus before the salivary glands swell and up to five days after the swelling develops.

"While mumps is not very common in the United States, we still see between 200 and 2,000 cases a year," stated Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director. "In 2015 we saw just over a thousand cases of mumps in the U.S., and just over 200 cases in 2012. The last case of mumps in Oswego County was back in 2011."

Huang said that mumps is highly contagious. "We want the community to be aware of the spread of mumps in other areas if they are planning to do any traveling in the near future," said Huang.

It is not uncommon to see small outbreaks of mumps on college campuses. A small portion of students are never immunized with mumps vaccine. Being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team, or living in a dormitory with a person who has mumps, also contribute to outbreaks of mumps.

Immunizations are available every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the county health department's public health clinic at 70 Bunner St., Oswego, and on the third Tuesday of the month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

"Vaccination remains the best way to prevent the spread of mumps and other vaccine preventable diseases," explained Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse with the Oswego County Health Department. "It is recommended that two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine be provided to children starting between 12 and 15 months of age. The second dose is usually given as the child prepares to enter school, usually between 4 and 6 years of age. Students enrolled in post-secondary education are required to show proof of two doses of MMR vaccine."

Previous outbreaks have shown that when people who are sick with mumps have close contact with a lot of other people, mumps can spread even among vaccinated people. However, outbreaks are much larger in areas where vaccine coverage rates are lower. It's important to look for the signs and symptoms of mumps and contact your healthcare provider if you suspect that you might have come in contact with someone with mumps, or if you develop signs and symptoms of illness.

For more information on mumps or other vaccine preventable illnesses, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547 or visit www.health.ny.gov

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