AUSTIN (KXAN) – A University of Texas student has been diagnosed with mumps, a contagious viral infection. According to the University, the student is an undergraduate in the College of Communications and lives off-campus.
Students and instructors who may have come into contact with the infected student were directly notified by University Health Services with the help of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
“I’m going to graduate in May and I don’t need mumps to stop me. I finished my exams today and I just need to make it,” said Larissa Liska, a senior journalism student. She received an email Wednesday from the university telling her someone in one of her classes has the mumps. “I’m just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, do I have my shot, or who is this person, what class?’ They didn’t tell me anything so I’m hoping I don’t get it.”
“I would really like to try and reassure folks that while mumps can sound really scary, it’s a viral infection that’s self limited,” said Dr. David Vander Straten, medical director for UT Health Services. The vast majority who get it might have no symptoms at all or mild symptoms at the most.”
He said if people were vaccinated when they were young, they should be fine.
“If students have had the two prior vaccinations, we consider that proof of immunity,” said Straten.
To their knowledge, UT officials said this is the first case of the mumps on campus since the vaccine has been in place, and that dates back to 1967.
Officials said the student had attended a party at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house on Saturday. The fraternity chapter is working with heath department officials to get in touch with people who attended the party.
The mumps virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also be spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.
The mumps vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People who have not received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine are at risk for contracting the virus.
The most common symptoms associated with the virus include: fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. Symptoms usually appear 16-18 days after infection, but the period can range from 12-25 days.
If students have any of these symptoms they should call 512-471-4955 or the 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877 before coming to University Health Services.
Preventing the spread of mumps
If you have mumps, there are several things you can do to avoid spreading the virus to others:
- Minimize close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
- Stay home from school and other activities for 5 days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live with you.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Clean your hands thoroughly and often with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
- Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or cleaning wipes.