We’re writing to provide an update regarding the diagnosis of mumps on the Medford/Somerville campus, announced earlier this week, and to ask that you pay extra attention to your health over spring break.
This week, Tufts Health Service has seen two confirmed cases and one suspected case of mumps. Some of these cases have been associated with fraternity organizations, and we are continuing to work with the members of this community to raise awareness of risks and precautionary measures.
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 weeks, 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). Please call Health Service (617-627-3350) to report your illness so we can keep track of cases. If you are on campus when you develop symptoms, you can come to Health Service for evaluation and guidance.
Thanks in advance for taking steps to safeguard your own health and also the health of our greater community.
Margaret Higham MD
Medical Director, Health Service