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Mumps: Guidance for the Greek Community

What is mumps? How can I tell if someone has mumps?

Mumps is a disease caused by a virus. Mumps is passed from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva. It usually starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. An infected person may have painful and swollen cheeks or jack.

  • About 2 people out of 10 with mumps will have no signs or symptoms of illness
  • Other people with mumps will have symptoms like headache, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever that make it hard to recognize the disease
  • If you are infected with mumps, you will be contagious three days before your symptoms begin and up to five days after your cheeks and jaw begin swelling

What are the possible complications from mumps?

About 5% of people with mumps develop complications, some of which may be severe. These include:

  • Inflammation of the testicles
  • Inflammation of the brain
  • Inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord
  • Inflammation of the ovaries and/or breast tissue
  • Deafness

About 1% of those with mumps are hospitalized.

How long does it take to show signs of mumps after being exposed?

The incubation period can last up to 25 days. For example, if you were exposed on April 22nd, you could start showing symptoms as late as May 18th.

Because of the long incubation period as well as other factors, outbreaks at other universities have lasted a year or more.

How can I prevent spread of mumps?

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow
  • Do not share food, drinks, cigarettes, smoking devices, or anything that has touched another person’s mouth

What can leaders of off-campus residential houses do to protect their members?

Mumps can be spread easily in gathering places and parties, especially if people are sharing drinks. House leaders should consider options for keeping their members safe, such as providing plenty of cups, plates, and utensils. Postponing parties and events may also be a good idea.

How should leaders of off-campus houses respond when a member of their household gets sick with mumps?

Leaders should plan to provide accommodation to sick residents. Help them stay away from others to prevent the spread of mumps.

  • Allow the infected person to sleep in a separate bedroom, or move non-infected roommates to a different bedroom
  • Deliver food and water to the infected person so they avoid spending time in common areas
  • Wipe down computers, phones, doorknobs, and anything else the infected person has touched
  • Don’t share plates, cups, utensils, phones, or anything else that has touched the mouth of an infected person
  • Don’t host parties in houses where people are contagious
  • Don’t visit or socialize with an infected person while they are contagious

Additional resources