You are here: American University Campus Life Student Health Mumps Update November 2017

Suspected Mumps Cases and Mumps-containing Vaccine

AU Memo Letterhead

This is an update to the prior memo sent last Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

The DC Department of Health (DOH) has notified us of a new suspected case of Mumps. All but one of the cases involve students who live off campus. The new suspected case is a student who resides in Leonard Hall and has been isolated. Those in close contact with this student have been notified and/or have received guidance from DC DOH.

Of the seven Mumps cases reported at American University, two cases now have laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis (five are classified as probable diagnoses). So far, all affected students have been contacted by DC DOH and were or are being isolated for the recommended five days after their initial symptoms develop.

According to the DOH, "Mumps spreads from person to person via droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person …" We recommend that people take precautions and avoid kissing, sharing drinks or eating utensils. As with many infectious illnesses, frequent hand washing is also an important way to protect yourself because the virus may also be spread indirectly when a person touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and then someone else touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose. The virus typically goes away on its own, however, and patients fully recover.

It is important for you to know that:

  • Mumps is a viral infection primarily involving the parotid glands in the cheeks. Antibiotics do not treat the Mumps. The swelling can last for a few weeks before it resolves by itself.
  • Individuals are vaccinated against the Mumps at around age 1 year and again at five years of age.
  • Proof of vaccination against Mumps is a requirement for all students under age 26. There are a select few students who cannot receive these immunizations because of their specific situations such as a medical contraindication (e.g. an immune issue).
  • Over time, immunity can wane and people can become susceptible to the infection. Every student with suspected Mumps was fully immunized.
  • Regarding a third dose of Mumps vaccine: currently, the CDC is only recommending a third booster dose for individuals thought to be at high risk of catching Mumps. We have been in daily contact with the DOH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine if any of our students meet the criteria. At this time, they have determined that the student population as a whole is not considered to be high risk and subsequently they are not recommending that we offer the third vaccine.

If you have questions regarding Mumps or are exhibiting any symptoms (fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, accompanied by swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears one or both sides), please contact the Student Health Center at or by phone at 202-885-3380.