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Two More Mumps Cases Confirmed in Watauga, Health Officials Emphasize Importance of Vaccinations

Two cases of mumps were confirmed in Watauga County on April 27 and 28, making a total of three confirmed cases in the county for the year. The two additional cases are in an Appalachian State University student and a Watauga Campus Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) student. All confirmed cases are residents of Watauga County.

Public Health Director for the Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) Beth Lovette reported the individuals diagnosed with the virus are being treated per guidelines established by the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control, and are fully cooperating in following isolation instructions.

“AppHealthCare and officials at both Appalachian State and Caldwell Community College are monitoring this case closely,” said Lovette. “We are working together, consulting with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team, sharing information, and taking swift and appropriate action in response to these additional diagnoses.”

Officials at both Appalachian State University and CCC&TI are reviewing the class rosters of their respective students’ scheduled classes and are working to evaluate and communicate with individuals who may have come into direct contact with the sick students and therefore may be more susceptible to contracting mumps. Additionally, public health officials are working to identify the students’ interactions during the potential infectious period.

“Both Appalachian State and Caldwell Community College are on heightened alert for anyone with signs and symptoms compatible with mumps,” Lovette said. “Because symptoms of mumps are similar to symptoms of other illnesses, like cold and flu, it is important if you are not feeling well, , to take preventative precautions of transmission and follow-up with your primary care physician as soon as possible. The virus is spread through close contact.”

Because of the recent increase in nationwide physician reported mumps cases, AppHealthCare has contacted area health care professionals to recommend a heightened awareness of the possible need for mumps testing in patients who present with symptoms consistent with mumps. Individuals who suspect they may have mumps are encouraged to seek medical attention and isolate for five days.

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.

Watauga County residents who are concerned about symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary 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.

The most effective prevention measure, said Lovette, is vaccinations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend two doses of the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. 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.

Leroy Wright, interim vice chancellor for student development at Appalachian State University and Dena Holman, vice president of student services at CCC&TI issued the following statement:

“The health and safety of our students and employees is always our top priority. We have communicated with our students, faculty and staff about the situation, and provided details about preventative measures as well as educational resources. We will remain vigilant and greatly appreciate the partnership with Appalachian District Health Department and the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team.”

The 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.

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.

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

  1. Sign in using 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.