Mumps Case on Campus

Mumps Case on Campus
January 22, 2020
Belltower with icy leaves

A UNC student has a confirmed case of mumps.  The dates the student may have been infectious were January 11th through January 18th.  Risk of becoming infected from this exposure to this student is low.

What causes mumps?

Mumps is a viral illness spread through direct contact with respiratory droplets (from coughing and sneezing) and saliva from an infected person. 

What are mumps symptoms?

Mumps is a viral illness best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes.  The most common symptoms include fever, muscle aches, unusual tiredness, loss of appetite, headache, and swollen, tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. Please note these are similar to symptoms of other illnesses, like cold and flu.

What should someone do if they have symptoms of mumps? 

If someone develops symptoms of mumps, (especially facial swelling on one or both sides), that person should stay home, away from others, and call Campus Health, Employee Health or their healthcare provider prior to visiting to the clinic. Though medical complications can occur, most people fully recover from mumps.

Mumps symptoms usually begin 16-18 days after exposure, but the range can be as short as 14 days and as long as 25 days from the exposure. People with mumps are most infectious 2 days before their symptoms begin but may be infectious as much as 7 days before onset of symptoms. Symptoms from exposure to this UNC student would develop between January 23rd and February 12, 2020.

How can I prevent the spread of mumps?

Check for evidence of your immunity to mumps as soon as possible. Evidence of immunity includes:

  • Documentation by the provider who diagnosed you with mumps, if you had the disease in the past,
  • Documentation of two mumps-containing vaccines (usually MMR) given on or after your first birthday and administered at least 1 month apart, or
  • Documentation of a positive mumps titer (a blood test showing immunity).  
  • If you were born before 1957 you are likely immune to mumps and do not need additional evidence of immunity.  People in this age group have likely had mumps in childhood.

To prevent the spread of this virus, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneezes, avoid close contact with ill individuals, and do not share beverages, eating utensils or cigarettes. 

If you are not feeling well, do not engage in social activity, share drinks, towels, clothing or other items with anyone.

If I'm fully vaccinated, can I get mumps?

MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. People who have received two doses of the MMR vaccine are about nine times less likely to get mumps than unvaccinated people who have the same exposure to mumps virus. However, some people who receive two doses of MMR can still get mumps, especially if they have prolonged, close contact with someone who has the disease. If a vaccinated person does get mumps, they will likely have less severe illness than an unvaccinated person.

Additional information is available at: (PDF)

For questions or concerns, you may call:

  • Orange County Health Department to speak to a communicable disease nurse: 919-245-2400
  • Campus Health: 919-966-6603 Monday-Friday 8a-5p, 919-966-6573 Saturday-Sunday 8a-5p

  • University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (EHS):  919-966-9119