ELON — A student at Elon University has contracted the mumps amid reports of the disease at other colleges in North and South Carolina.
Elon said Tuesday that only one case of this contagious disease has been confirmed on campus and said it’s unaware of any other confirmed or suspected cases of mumps. It also said the Alamance County Health Department believes the student, which Elon identified only as an undergraduate, is no longer contagious.
Sarah Isom, a spokeswoman for the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, said Wednesday that there are no cases of mumps in Forsyth County.
In addition, there have been no cases of the mumps reported at Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University, the UNC School of the Arts, Salem College and Forsyth Technical Community College, the schools’ spokespeople said.
Elon said it will work with local and state health officials to contact roommates, classmates and others who might have had contact with the affected student. They’ll make available to these people a third dose of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine later this week.
Most people get two doses of the MMR vaccine as children. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said two doses are 88% effective against mumps. The center said a third dose might be needed in case of a mumps outbreak.
Elon said it complies with state law that requires the vast majority of college students to have several vaccinations before starting classes. In North Carolina, at least two doses of the mumps vaccine or proof of immunity against mumps is required. Elon said “nearly all” of its students have had at least two rounds of shots against mumps.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It’s spread through direct contact with saliva or by respiratory droplets by someone who coughs, sneezes or talks. Sharing water bottles, kissing, playing sports or other close-contact activities and touching objects with unwashed hands also can spread mumps.
People with mumps have puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. Symptoms don’t usually appear until at least two weeks after a person is affected. Most people recover in about two weeks.
Many people with mumps show few symptoms and might not be aware they have the disease, according to the CDC. In rare cases, mumps can lead to severe complications such as pancreatitis, encephalitis, meningitis or deafness.
Elon is the second school in North Carolina where mumps has turned up recently.
Five suspected cases of mumps were reported last week at High Point University, according to media reports. HPU said Tuesday that four of those cases tested positive for mumps.
In a message to campus, High Point said the affected students have “received appropriate care and have been provided with alternative housing.” The university also said custodians are cleaning campus common areas more frequently to reduce the chance that mumps will spread.
News outlets reported Tuesday that three students at the College of Charleston in South Carolina have tested positive for mumps since last week.