SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting four laboratory-confirmed cases of mumps among students at Western Illinois University (WIU). IDPH has been working with the McDonough County Health Department and Beu Health Center at WIU to investigate and contain the cases.
“Western Illinois University, in partnership with the McDonough County Health Department, has done an excellent job of informing students on how to avoid contracting mumps and what they should do if they begin to have symptoms,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “Because classes are ending this week, it’s important to share this information with the public so they can take precautions. Mumps is contagious and can be spread person-to-person, unlike some other illnesses.”
To date, all cases have been among students. Students who received health care for symptoms were isolated to prevent the spread of mumps. Individuals who believe they came into contact with someone who had mumps and begin experiencing symptoms should contact a health care provider before their visit to avoid infecting others.
Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands. The most common symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and tender salivary glands
Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after exposure, but this period can range from 12-25 days. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by:
- coughing, sneezing, or talking;
- sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils; and
- touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.
To avoid becoming ill, make sure your MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is up-to-date. If you are unsure if you have received both doses, get vaccinated. You can also take the following steps.
- Wash your hands well and often with soap and water.
- Do not share eating utensils and beverages with others.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces with soap and water.
- Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
The MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps. The vaccine is about 88 percent effective when two doses are administered correctly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at four through six years of age.
For more information about mumps, visit the IDPH website.