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Mumps Diagnosis of App State Student, Health Officials Continue to Urge Public Vigilance

Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) and Appalachian State University are continuing to investigate one case of mumps in an Appalachian State University student, which was confirmed on November 21, 2017, and upon further investigation was determined to be out of the recommended isolation period as of Nov. 22.

The university and AppHealthCare are working in close consultation with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team, and are cooperating to share information and take action as appropriate. Public Health Director for AppHealthCare, Jennifer Greene, reported that the ill student has fully cooperated in following isolation instructions.

“While at this time, no additional cases of mumps have been detected in Watauga County,” Greene said, “we remain on heightened alert for anyone with signs and symptoms compatible with mumps.”

Dr. Robert Ellison, director of Appalachian State University’s Student Health Service stated, “We continue to urge vigilance. Symptoms of mumps are similar to those of other illnesses, like cold and flu, so be on alert.”

Mumps is a viral illness best known for causing parotitis, a swelling of the salivary glands below the ears and above the jaw. Other common symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.

Ellison indicated the virus is spread through close contact, like kissing, drinking after someone else, coughing or sneezing. “If you are not feeling well, do not engage in social activity or share drinks, towels, clothing or other items with anyone,” he said.

Ellison said Appalachian State University students with symptoms of concern should contact Student Health Services at 828-262-3100. Calls to this number are answered 24/7.

Members of the community who are concerned about symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary health care providers, urgent care or Watauga Medical Center.

Those exhibiting any of the symptoms listed below should take precautionary steps to limit contact with others.

According to the CDC, mumps outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, particularly in close-contact settings like college campuses. In 2016 and 2017, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of mumps. High vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks.

Greene emphasized the importance of vaccinations in preventing an outbreak. The CDC recommend two doses of the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. The recommended two doses of the vaccine provide approximately 88 percent protection against infection. A single dose of the vaccine provides approximately 78 percent protection.

The last case of mumps in Watauga County was confirmed by district health officials on May 11, 2017.

Information below is being shared with the public to assist in preventing the spread of mumps.

What causes mumps?

Mumps is caused by a virus.

How does mumps spread?

The mumps virus is spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva or through sharing items like cups or utensils with an infected person. The risk of spreading the virus increases the longer and the closer the contact a person has with someone who has mumps. The average incubation period (from exposure to onset of illness) for mumps is 16 to 18 days, with a range of 12– 25 days. People with mumps are considered most infectious from two days before through five days after the onset of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Individuals with mumps usually first feel sick with nonspecific symptoms like headache, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever. The most well-known sign of mumps is parotitis, the swelling of the parotid salivary glands, below the ear. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. There are no medicines to treat mumps, but most people recover completely in a few weeks.


Vaccination is the best way to prevent mumps. Two doses of MMR vaccine are approximately 88% effective at preventing the disease; one dose is approximately 78% effective.

MMR vaccine should be administered to persons without evidence of immunity and everyone should be brought up to date with age appropriate vaccination (one or two doses). Although MMR vaccination has not been shown to be effective in preventing mumps in persons already infected, it will prevent infection in those persons who are not yet exposed or infected. Those born before or during 1957 are considered immune based on likely exposure during childhood.

Mumps can occur in vaccinated people; however, people who have not been vaccinated against mumps are much more likely to get mumps than those who have been fully vaccinated. Clinicians should ensure that all healthcare personnel in their offices have evidence of immunity to mumps.

How can I find out if I have been/should be vaccinated?

AppHealthCare, the local health department, urges community members to check with their primary care physician about their current immunization records, to ensure they have the recommended vaccinations. Immunizations are available through primary care providers and AppHealthCare, Alleghany: 336-372-5641, Ashe: 336-246-9449 or Watauga: 828-264-4995.

Appalachian State students can access their immunization records at http://medportal.appstate.edu in three easy steps:

  1. Sign in with your university user name and password.
  2. Select the “immunization” tab.
  3. Select “immunization history.”

This will allow students to view all immunizations they have submitted to Appalachian and all vaccinations administered by Appalachian’s immunization clinic. They will also have the option to print their records from this screen.

Additional information is available at:

Any further communications related to additional measures to prevent additional cases of mumps in our community will be communicated to the media, as well as posted to http://www.apphealthcare.com.