Public health officials have reported a major mumps outbreak on the campus of the University of Arkansas (U of A), according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
There have been nine mumps cases at the university during the fall 2019 semester, according to the letter sent by the Medical Director for Immunizations and Outbreak Response.
Assistant Director of Communications of Pat Walker Health Center Zac Brown said, “A new policy will take effect in January 2020 that will require all students to have documentation that they received both doses of the MMR vaccine unless they were exempt for reasons set by the health department.”
The university dropped 407 emails to students who did not take two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines. The officials also sent emails to those who have valid vaccine exemptions.
Brown said, “312 of those students only had the first dose of the MMR vaccine, and the rest were exempt.”
The medical director explained that the majority of the students who did not take the second MMR dose were scheduled to get it on Monday.
Brown noted that with the new policy in 2020, it would significantly reduce the number of students taking only one shot.
The Arkansas public health officials have issued a statement that students who are not vaccinated with at least two shots of the MMR vaccine will be suspended from class or class activities for 26 days.
“Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects saliva-producing (salivary) glands that are located near your ears,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
It is one of the contagious diseases, which can spread easily through sneezing and coughing. Currently, there is no treatment for mumps.
The signs and symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands.
Health officials recommend seeing your PCP if you experience any of these symptoms. They also recommend staying away from work or public places and calling your PCP’s office before visiting the clinic. ADH said they have been working with the U of A officials to combat mumps and stop the spread. The officials will be monitoring the campus closely.