Five suspected cases of mumps have been reported at American University, the school confirmed Tuesday.
“So far, all affected students have been isolated for five days after their initial symptoms, in accordance with D.C. Department of Health guidelines,” David Reitman, medical director for the AU Student Health Center, said in an email to the AU community. “The D.C. Department of Health has contacted the affected students to identify any other potentially affected students who might be at direct risk of contracting mumps.”
Mark Story, an AU spokesman, said samples were taken from American University students dealing with suspected mumps cases. The D.C. Department of Health sent those samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Story, calling it standard procedure.
The news at American comes not long after students at the University of Virginia were urged to take precautions after officials identified two suspected cases of mumps at the school.
Christopher Holstege, executive director of the Department of Student Health at U-Va., alerted students of the possible appearance of the contagious disease. The university has also notified its faculty and staff, a spokesman for U-Va. said in an email to The Washington Post.
Mumps symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle aches, and swollen or tender glands under a person’s ears, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains on its website. These symptoms usually occur 16 to 18 days after someone is infected.
“Given that students with mumps will be isolated for five days and asked not to participate in university activities during their period of contagion, we want to help you protect yourself from the virus,” Holstege’s email to U-Va. students stated. “The best protection against mumps is the mumps vaccine, usually MMR. If you have not completed the two-shot series, you should do so now.”
The MMR vaccine is for measles, mumps and rubella. In the email, students were also given tips on how to avoid contracting the disease, which spreads through saliva or mucus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those tips included hand-washing, directing a cough into an elbow or a tissue, and not sharing items that have had contact with saliva.
Story, the AU spokesman, said the university is communicating with its students through email as well as through its health center, trying to educate them about how mumps is transmitted.
“It’s, ‘don’t share a drink,’ ‘don’t share utensils,’ ‘don’t share something that someone else’s saliva could be on,’ ” he said.
A student at the University of Maryland was diagnosed with mumps in 2016, and university officials at College Park were tracking other suspected cases at the time.
This year, there have been more than 4,000 reported cases of mumps infections in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.