You may have seen recent news about cases of mumps occurring on campuses in North Carolina. High Point University had 4 confirmed cases of mumps in their student population this month and Elon University has also had a confirmed case in one of their students. Colleges and universities are common sites for mumps outbreaks due to the close living quarters of their residents and there have been many campuses impacted over the last 5 years.
Mumps is a virus that can cause significant symptoms lasting up to two weeks. Complications of mumps are more common in unvaccinated individuals and include the possibility of inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males; this may lead to a decrease in testicular size (testicular atrophy), inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis), inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis), inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), and deafness. Individuals with mumps require isolation from the community to prevent the spread of infection for about a week after their symptoms begin.
You may have also seen the recent press coverage regarding the widespread outbreaks of measles across the country and world. According to the CDC, the vast majority of cases of measles have occurred in individuals who were not vaccinated against measles. The risk of coming into contact with measles increases due to our mobile society. Measles is one of the most highly communicable (easy to catch) of all infectious diseases.
Measles is characterized by fever, cough, cold symptoms, and red irritated eyes (pink eye) followed by a rash. The rash spreads from head to trunk to lower extremities. Measles is a miserable illness and can be quite dangerous. In the United States, death occurs in one to two of every 1,000 cases. Measles can also result in complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. One in four people who become ill with measles will require hospitalization.
Fortunately, measles and mumps can be prevented in adults and children by immunization with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. The MMR vaccine is safe and very effective in preventing measles infection. Two doses of MMR are routinely recommended for all children and any unvaccinated adult. Additionally, it is extremely important to have received two doses of the vaccine if planning international travel. The vaccine is 97% effective in preventing measles after 2 doses.
If there is a case of measles or mumps at Wake Forest and you have not provided documentation of measles immunity, you may be excluded from school until 21 days after the onset of symptoms in the last case of measles or mumps at Wake Forest. If you are a suspected of being a contact of the case, you will be excluded from campus/school for 21 days after the onset of rash in the last case of measles or mumps at Wake Forest.
If you have not received two (2) doses of the MMR vaccine the Student Health Service urges you to get this as soon as possible. We must protect those in our community that are too young to get the vaccine and those with immune system issues that prevent effective protection against measles/mumps. It is the responsibility of all of us to protect others from this. Please reference the CDC website concerning measles: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html and mumps: https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html.
The vaccine is available at the Student Health Service (336-758-5218) as well as the Forsyth County Health Department (336-703-3100). Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns.
All the best to you for good health and wellbeing,