According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 42 states have reported cases of the mumps so far this year, including a number of outbreaks on college campuses. To avoid contracting this highly contagious disease, Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, recommends that parents have their college-age children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, which covers measles, mumps, and rubella. “The MMR vaccine offers the best protection from mumps,” says Amler, “and with this disease circulating on campuses, it’s especially important to be sure your student is vaccinated.”
Mumps can be spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat, so sharing cups, straws, and utensils is unwise. Objects and surfaces touched by unwashed hands can also leave traces of the illness behind. With college students constantly sharing dorm rooms, classrooms, and libraries, it’s no wonder that there have been outbreaks of the illness on campuses.
Students should be on the lookout for mumps symptoms such as: a combination of fever, headache, muscle weakness, stiff neck, and loss of appetite. Following these symptoms comes the characteristic swelling and tenderness of the cheeks or lower jaw. Students can get vaccinated at Westchester County’s immunization clinics in White Plains and Yonkers. For more information, visit www.westchestergov.com/health.