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One Case of Mumps Confirmed, Watauga County & ASU Officials Urge Vigilance

On April 7, 2017 Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) and Appalachian State University confirmed one case of mumps in an Appalachian State University student.

The individual diagnosed with the virus is being treated, and actions are in effect to minimize contact with this person, per guidelines established by the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control.

Appalachian State University, AppHealthCare and the North Carolina Division of Public Health are working together to investigate this case and prevent the spread of mumps.

Dr. Robert Ellison, director of Appalachian State Unversity’s Student Health Service stated, “Appalachian State University is working in close partnership with AppHealthCare and the North Carolina Division of Public Health to investigate this case and prevent the spread of mumps. We want to reassure our campus and community that this virus is spread through close contact like kissing, drinking after someone else, coughing or sneezing. The ill student has been cooperative in staying home while ill as we have instructed.”

Public Health Director for AppHealthCare Beth Lovette commented, “We appreciate the partnership with Appalachian State University in our collaborative efforts to help address this single mumps case and take necessary steps to reduce the potential spread of disease to others. It is a good reminder for all of us that the best prevention is to be fully immunized. While there is a vaccine to protect against this disease, usually given as part of the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, its effectiveness can wane over time. 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, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ​Together, we are continuing to monitor this situation closely in consultation with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team.”

Below is information regarding mumps exposure, in order for community members to be informed about symptoms. Members of the community are encouraged to promptly report suspected mumps cases to their primary care physicians.

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

Appalachian State University students who are concerned about symptoms they might be experiencing can contact Student Health Services at 828-262-3100. Calls to this number are answered 24/7. Additionally, Appalachian’s Student Health Services will be open extended hours Sunday, April 9 from 1-6pm.

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

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.

It is important to recognize that mumps can occur in vaccinated people. During mumps outbreaks in highly vaccinated communities, the proportion of cases that occur among people who have been vaccinated may be high. This should not be interpreted as meaning that the vaccine is not effective; 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 presumptive evidence of immunity.

Again, Appalachian State University, AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) and the North Carolina Division of Public Health are in close communication about this issue and we are cooperating to share information and take action as appropriate.

Additional information is available at:



http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4211.pdf (PDF)

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.