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A student at Broward County middle school in Cooper City, Florida, has contracted mumps, according to school officials. Parents received a letter Friday informing them of the case and warning them to monitor their children for symptoms of the viral illness.
Mumps outbreaks have also been reported at High Point University and Elon University in North Carolina. As of October 8th, officials at High Point University reported 11 confirmed cases of mumps on campus, and Elon University reported 6 confirmed cases of mumps.
"Mumps is a vaccine-preventable viral infection transmitted by and affecting only humans," according to MedicineNet author John Mersch, MD, FAAP. The illness causes headache, fever, muscle aches, and characteristic parotid gland swelling. The parotid gland is located in front and below the ear and behind the jaw bone.
Like the flu, mumps is highly contagious. People with mumps can spread the virus through their saliva or through airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze. Most cases last for seven to 10 days and resolve spontaneously, Dr. Mersch said. Potential serious health complications of mumps include meningitis, encephalitis, deafness, and orchitis (inflammation of the testicles).
Dr. Mersch said there is a 14- to 18-day incubation period between contracting mumps and the occurrence of symptoms and signs. Affected people should be isolated from other susceptible people for five days following the onset of salivary gland swelling.
However, the best treatment for mumps is prevention, Dr. Mersch said. "Prior to the routine administration of the MMR vaccine, approximately 186,000 (mumps) cases per year were documented in the United States," he writes. "With immunization, that number has fallen to 2,015 cases in 2015."