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Suspected case of mumps at Miami

UPDATE Wednesday 3/1, 6:45 p.m.: University spokeswoman Claire Wagner has confirmed to The Student that the student in question has been diagnosed with mumps. A further announcement on MyMiami is forthcoming.

A Miami student has come down with a suspected case of mumps, according to a notice posted on MyMiami over the weekend.

As of Monday afternoon, the diagnosis hasn't been confirmed yet -- staff at Miami's Student Health Services (SHS) are awaiting test results from the Ohio Department of Health -- but SHS practice administrator Cyndi Traficant encouraged students and faculty to be vigilant in preventing further spread of the illness.

Mumps is a viral contagious disease that is spread through saliva or mucus, often by an infected person coughing, sneezing or having physical contact with someone else. The MyMiami notice named handwashing with soap, not sharing food or utensils, cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched, minimizing contact with those who are sick and covering mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing as ways to prevent the spread of mumps.

"That's kind of handy because that's the best prevention strategy for influenza as well," Traficant said. "The same kinds of things that you do to try to keep yourself healthy will also help protect you from getting mumps."

Common mumps symptoms include fever, headache and swelling or tenderness of the salivary glands, near the jawline. But because the incubation period for mumps can last several weeks, and its symptoms are largely similar to those of more common, minor infections, Traficant said students should exercise caution.

And though the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine, introduced in 1971 and generally given to children in two doses, has made mumps relatively rare, those who were not vaccinated remain susceptible.

"Mumps is highly contagious, so that's why there's always concern in a setting like this where a lot of people are interacting on a close, daily basis," Traficant said.

At the University of Missouri, a mumps outbreak involving over 300 students has been ongoing since the fall. Closer to home, three cases of mumps were reported at the University of Dayton last week.

The MyMiami memo urged students to contact the Health Center at 529-3000 with questions about the spread of mumps or to schedule a vaccination.

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