Frequently Asked Questions About Mumps at NU

What does "suspect cases" mean?

The testing for mumps in a population that has already been vaccinated is a delicate process.  The more accurate of the two available confirmatory tests takes at least 2 weeks to get results and require repeat visits at precisely the correct time after the onset of symptoms. This means that students are considered suspect cases based on defining symptoms and consultation with CDC until the confirmatory test results are received.

Why are students getting the mumps if they have been vaccinated?

The mumps vaccine is given as a part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and has long been known as the weakest of the three.  Only 80% of those vaccinated get full protection.  

Is there a reason to be concerned about the mumps virus?

It is very rare to see severe complications of mumps in the vaccinated population. Mumps in general is not a severe illness to begin with, especially in children. The main risk of mumps in an unvaccinated male is that he could then develop orchitis and sterility. 

Immunocompromised individuals and unvaccinated pregnant women are also  at risk for complications.

Is this a different strain of mumps?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inform us that there is nothing at this time to indicate that this is a new strain of mumps or that the vaccine is any less effective than we have known about for years.

What can I do to protect myself?

Start by checking your immunization status as this is the most important way to stop the disease. Mumps is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs therefore cough etiquette should be enforced.  

  • Hand hygiene is the best protection. Wash your hands before you eat, after touching your face/mouth/eyes/nose, or having contact with anyone who is sick.  

  • Do not share items that you place in your mouth such as drinking cups, straw, or utensils.

  • If you have a cough or feel a sneeze coming on, cover your mouth or nose with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not into your hands.