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This week, Tufts Health Service has seen one confirmed and at least three suspected cases of mumps. Some of these cases have been associated with Greek Life, so we are reaching out to ask that you pay extra attention to your health in the coming weeks.

The main symptom of mumps is swelling and pain of the salivary gland located along the angle of your jaw, slightly below your ear. Mumps makes you look like you have “chipmunk face.” It is generally a mild illness in healthy young adults; the main difficulty is that affected students need to be isolated for 5 days to keep from spreading mumps to others. People with weakened immune systems and those who are pregnant can have more significant symptoms.

There is no medication for mumps—it has to run its course. All incoming Tufts students are required to have 2 mumps shots (MMR, or Mumps, Measles and Rubella). However, the immunization is not completely effective and the protection can decrease with time, so some fully immunized students are still susceptible. There is no test to identify mumps if it is incubating—the test can only be done when you have swelling along your jaw.

The infection is spread by respiratory droplets, i.e. by sneezes and coughs, sharing drinks, and close social contact. We urge you to be mindful of your hygiene over the coming weeks. This will help protect you from the virus!

The incubation period for mumps is 12-25 days, and you are contagious for 3 days before you develop symptoms and for 5 full days after symptoms start. If you were exposed in the past week, you might develop symptoms while on Spring Break. If you do, try to isolate yourself, and do not use public transportation for 5 full days (120 hours). If you are on campus when you develop symptoms, you can come to Health Service for evaluation and guidance on isolation. Health Service is also able to notify your academic dean in case any accommodations for your course work are recommended.

Thanks in advance for taking steps to safeguard your own health and also the health of our greater community.

Sincerely,
Margaret Higham MD
Medical Director, Health Service

Su McGlone
Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life