Mumps outbreak reported among students at UW, with 20 cases since last month

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SEATTLE — The University of Washington sent a notice out that there has been an outbreak of 20 cases of mumps, mostly among students, since a first case was diagnosed on Feb. 17.

The school said most of the cases “have been concentrated among students in sororities and fraternities.”

“However, we anticipate the number of cases among UW students will increase more broadly as the outbreak continues in King County and across Washington state,” the school’s notice said. The notice was sent out Thursday.

University departments are working closely with Public Health — Seattle & King County to “contain the outbreak and prevent further transmission,” the notice said, adding that it is advising staff, faculty and students to take preventive measures to stop the spread of mumps.

Mumps is an illness caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, swelling of the cheeks and jaw, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, or testicular pain and swelling. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications.

Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or sprays saliva while talking.

Mumps can also be spread by:  

- Sharing food, drinks, utensils, cigarettes or cellphones

- Touching objects or surfaces touched by someone with mumps

- Someone who has mumps going to a place where many people are gathered.


What can I do to prevent a mumps infection?    

- Make sure you've had the recommended two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine; it is possible to get infected with mumps even if vaccinated, however the risk is greatly reduced.

- Wash your hands often with soap and water.

- Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils and anything that touches your mouth.

- Avoid coming into contact with sick people.



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