Mumps outbreak growing at North Carolina universities with almost a dozen new cases

Nearly a dozen more cases of the highly contagious mumps virus have been reported at universities in central North Carolina as public health officials work to contain the outbreak.

Elon University reported three new confirmed cases of mumps on the Alamance County campus, the school said Monday. And High Point University reported eight more confirmed cases this week, according to ABC11.

In an email to students, faculty and staff at Elon, the university said 800 people on campus had gotten new vaccine boosters to help stop the spread of the disease.

Mumps is a highly contagious virus but the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, called the MMR vaccine, is effective at preventing most people from getting sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people get the vaccine twice as children, but a third dose as an adult can help boost immunity during an outbreak, according to the CDC.

High Point University said it is giving separate housing to students with the virus and cleaning more in common areas where mumps could spread, Fox 8 reports.

“This is unfortunately something schools in our area are experiencing,” High Point University said in a campus-wide email, according to WXII. “The university continues to follow protocol to ensure the students impacted receive appropriate care and have been provided with alternative housing, a best practice based on guidance from health officials.”

“Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and tender, swollen jaw that it causes,” according to the CDC. Other symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, loss of appetite and tiredness.

“Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12–25 days after infection,” the CDC said. “Some people who get mumps have very mild symptoms (like a cold), or no symptoms at all and may not know they have the disease.

Since doctors started giving two doses of the MMR vaccine to kids in 1989, mumps cases are almost gone completely with a decrease of more than 99 percent, the CDC says.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.