COLUMBIA — A student in an MU residence hall has mumps, Susan Even, MU Student Health Center executive director, confirmed Monday.

The student is a resident in the North-Center halls complex on Kentucky Boulevard. According to a Residential Life notice to be posted in North and Center halls, the student is no longer contagious and didn't contract the disease on campus.

When a case of mumps is confirmed in Missouri, the diagnosing party must report it to the state Health Department. If several mumps cases are reported in one area in a short time, it's deemed an outbreak, which then is tested and tracked by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, there were 1,057 mumps cases reported in the U.S. Before the creation of a vaccine for mumps in 1967, there were about 186,000 cases of mumps reported nationally each year.

This case was diagnosed at the Student Health Center, said Even, who is also MU's chief health officer. Symptoms of mumps include swelling of glands under the ears and jawbone, fever and body aches. But people who get mumps are generally only contagious for the first five days.

Mumps patients are typically not hospitalized unless they need supportive care, such as IV fluids. There are currently no plans to remove the student from the residence hall because that’s not part of the university’s mumps response protocol, Even said. Patients are allowed to wait out the infectious period at home; in this case, the person's dorm room.

“At our school, once we diagnose someone, they’ve already been sick (and) they’ve already exposed people before they came to us,” Even said. “By the time we see them, it’s day two, three or four. So one more day, two more days (of being contagious). We’ll give them permission not to go to class and stay in their room for a day, but they’re really not walking around contagious to somebody.”

Since mumps is a viral infection, there’s no medical treatment. Prevention is the best way to avoid more mumps cases, she said. This means getting the word out to those why might have come in contact with the patient. Mumps is transmitted through saliva, so sharing drinks, musical instruments, kisses and food can put a person at risk.

“The next step is … to communicate to the people who might have been exposed, who were in (the patient’s) closest contacts,” Even said. “Roommate, the people around them. If they should have symptoms that might look like mumps, … they should seek medical attention.”

In the longterm, though, the MMR vaccine — measles, mumps, rubella — can shield people from the disease.

“That’s one of the best preventative measures we can recommend people do, stay up to date on your vaccines,” said Andrea Waner, public information officer for Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department. “Get vaccinated when you’re supposed to, check your shot record if you’re worried you haven’t been vaccinated. That’s the big one.”

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed

  • Formerly an assistant city editor & reporter on the public health and safety beat. Reach me at jaredhkaufman@gmail.com or on Twitter @Jaredography.

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