Mumps Outbreak Update - 1/20/2020
The University of Connecticut experienced a mumps outbreak on the Storrs campus. A mumps outbreak is defined as three or more cases linked by time and place. The University responded to this outbreak in collaboration with our local and state departments of public health and the federal Centers for Disease Control. In total, there were six reported cases of mumps linked to the Storrs campus, the last case occurred in late December.
In accordance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the recommendations from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the mumps outbreak on the Storrs campus concluded January 19, 2020.
Mumps Outbreak Information - 12/23/2019
On December 23, 2019 an email message was sent to all UConn students informing them that there was an outbreak of mumps on the Storrs campus. This mainly affects all Storrs students and the students from regional campuses who live on the Storrs campus.
On December 30, 2019 secure messages were sent to students who were identified as being at “higher risk” for contracting mumps. The reasons for being at higher risk include:
- potential close contact with other infected students in a class, residence hall or dining hall
- students with complex underlying medical conditions
- inadequate immunization (have not received two doses of MMR vaccine)
- missing or inadequate documentation of immunity (have not provided evidence of MMR immunization, mumps titer or having had the mumps)
- declination of immunization for medical or non-medical reasons
Students who wish to verify their immunization status may log into the student health portal. Per Connecticut state law, students who have not been immunized or have not provided documentation of immunization may be excluded from campus during an outbreak.
Students who received a secure message were also provided with suggested actions to mitigate contracting mumps. We recommend that students share their secure message with their primary care provider to guide in further decision-making.
Student Health and Wellness has established a dedicated phone line to address mumps related questions: 860-486-8987. This line will be monitored during our regular business hours. After hours messages will be returned within one business day.
What is mumps?
Mumps is virus that can be passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. It is most commonly spread through:
- Coughing and sneezing
- Sharing items with saliva such as water bottles, cups, utensils, e-cigarette products
- Participating in close contact activities such as playing sports
- Touching surfaces and objects that have been touched by an infected individual
When do symptoms appear?
- Symptoms often appear 16 to 18 days after exposure.
- However, symptoms may appear as early as 12 days and up to 25 days after exposure.
What are symptoms of mumps?
Symptoms of mumps may include:
- swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (parotitis)
- muscle aches
- loss of appetite
- testicular swelling (orchitis)
- swelling of the ovaries (oophoritis) and breasts (mastitis)
- the mumps virus may most commonly be known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw.
What are the complications of mumps?
Mumps generally causes mild symptoms in people who are immunized. Symptoms usually go away on their own; however, mumps is easily transmitted, and some people experience complications. In rare occasions, mumps can cause more severe complications including:
- Meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)
- Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
- Loss of hearing
When can the virus be transmitted?
- Individuals are contagious for several days prior to the onset of and for 5 days after the onset of symptoms (parotitis).
- Individuals are most infectious within the first 5 days.
- The CDC recommends limiting contact with others for 5 days after the onset of symptoms (parotitis).
How is mumps transmitted?
- Mumps virus is transmitted via droplets in the air. The virus can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and releases tiny droplets of contaminated saliva, which can be inhaled by another person.
- The virus can also be transmitted by direct contact with saliva from an infected person.
How long can the virus survive on a contaminated surface?
- The mumps virus can survive on contaminated surfaces, such as doorknob and other hard surfaces.
- Length of survival varies depending on environmental conditions and cleaning practices.
- Frequent hand washing and the use of alcohol based hand sanitizer is the best way to prevent becoming infected from contaminated surfaces.
Why did some people get mumps if they are vaccinated?
- Two doses of the vaccine are 88% effective (range: 66 to 95%) at protecting against mumps.
- One dose is 78% effective (range: 49% to 92%)
- The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease.
Am I protected if I have had mumps (the disease) in the past?
- Having the disease usually results in immunity, but the protection is not 100% and immunity can wane with time.
- Having a documented case of the mumps overrides the recommendation for a 3rd MMR booster.
Who is currently recommended to receive a MMR booster?
Students identified as contacts of the three probable cases of mumps and are considered at “higher risk” for contracting mumps.
- potential close contact with other infected students in a class, residence hall or dining hall and have documentation of 2 MMR immunizations and/or a positive IgG titer (blood test)
- inadequate immunization (have not received two doses of MMR vaccine)
Who in the “higher risk” group does not need a 3rd MMR booster?
- Individuals who have already received 3 or more MMR vaccinations.
- Individuals with a history of mumps confirmed by a medical provider, self-reported history of mumps not accepted.
Can Connecticut medical providers use their state supplied MMR vaccine for this booster immunization in patients who are 18 years old or older?
- YES. The Connecticut Department of Public Health has approved the use of state supplied MMR vaccine for any college student who has been recommended to receive at 3rd dose of MMR in an outbreak setting regardless of age. However, this approval is only for students who have received the recommendation to receive a MMR booster.
Should individuals outside of this “higher risk” group receive a MMR booster?
- It is not recommended at this time, but students can opt to receive a MMR booster if they are concerned.
- However, only students recommended to have an MMR booster can access the state supply of MMR vaccine regardless of age.
Is the MMR vaccine you receive as a first or second dose different from the booster?
- No, it is the same vaccine.
How long does it take for the MMR booster to become effective?
- It can take up to 2 weeks for the MMR booster to become effective.
- It is still possible to contract the mumps if exposed to the virus during this window of time after vaccination.
Should students obtain a blood test (IgG titer) to check immunity?
- NO. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the CT Department of Public Health (CTDPH) recommend a 3rd MMR booster vaccination if identified as being at “higher risk” even in individuals with a positive mumps titer.
Does the MMR vaccine prevent infection with mumps from a previous exposure?
- No, but it will reduce the chance of becoming infected from future exposures, which is more likely in the “higher risk” group in the setting of an outbreak.
How long will the mumps outbreak last?
- It is impossible to say with certainty when the threat of mumps virus transmission on the Storrs campus will be over. Mumps cases continue to occur in many states, including Connecticut. It is possible that some of our students may have been exposed to mumps while away on winter break. It is also possible that some of our students could be exposed to mumps during the semester when traveling to areas where mumps outbreaks are occurring.
What can I do to stay healthy?
Practice preventive measures.
- Use good hand hygiene by frequently washing your hands with soap and water or by using an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Practice appropriate cough etiquette by coughing and sneezing to your elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid direct contact with saliva (e.g., kissing and sharing personal items like, water bottles/cups, utensils, lip balm, and tobacco/e-cigarette products)
- Make sure you are up to date on all other recommended vaccines (flu and Meningococcal B)
Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are sick to prevent infecting others.
What if I am exhibiting symptoms?
- Contact Student Health and Wellness – Medical Services or your personal health care provider
- Individuals with acute symptoms should self-isolate by staying home from school, work and social gatherings until the contagious period passes (5 days after the start of parotid gland swelling).
- If you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, please contact your health care provider immediately.
Where can I get more information?
- For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control website