Wellness Center

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About the Mumps

Although there are currently no cases of the mumps at Ursinus, confirmed cases have been occurring on college campuses across the US and now in Pennsylvania.

What is mumps?

Mumps is an acute viral infection spread primarily by coughing and sneezing. Some people with mumps are almost asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t have any noticeable symptoms, or have a mild infection that resembles any other upper respiratory tract infection.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen and tender salivary glands in front and under the ear and/or under the jaw on one or both sides

How is mumps spread?

You can contract mumps from someone actually coughing in your face, but you can also get it from droplets in the room. You can also touch a surface that an infected person recently touched, such as toys, public areas, etc. and infect yourself by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

After being exposed to mumps, how long does it take to develop symptoms?

The usual time from exposure to the virus until development of symptoms (incubation period) ranges from 16 to 18 days, but the shortest is 11 or 12 days, and it can be up to 25 days. Most people are contagious from about three days before to nine days after the swelling of the salivary glands occurs.

How is mumps diagnosed?

Mumps is diagnosed by a combination of signs and symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory confirmation of the virus, as not all cases develop characteristic salivary gland inflammation (parotitis) and not all cases of parotitis are caused by mumps.

If you experience symptoms, it is recommended that you notify the Wellness Center right away and make arrangements to be seen; until you are assessed, isolate yourself and avoid travel to prevent exposure to others.

Is mumps serious?

In most cases, mumps is uncomfortable and annoying. But in some, it can cause serious, lasting problems, including:

Meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)

Deafness (temporary or permanent)

Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)

Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males who have reached puberty, which can lead to sterility

Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty

In rare cases, mumps is deadly.

Is there a treatment for mumps?

There is no cure for mumps, only supportive treatment (bed rest, fluids, and fever reduction.


Most all children in the US and around the world routinely get vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine at age 1 and 4. The vaccine includes mumps, measles and rubella (German measles) viruses. MMR vaccines contain live, attenuated (or weakened) strains of the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses. It is so weak that it causes only immunity and not the disease itself.

Students who would like to verify their immunity can request a lab slip to check their immunity levels.

Vaccine Availability

In 2018, CDC recommended that people previously vaccinated with 2 doses of mumps vaccine (e.g., MMR), who are identified by public health authorities as being part of a group or population at increased risk for mumps because of an outbreak, should receive a third dose of MMR.

A limited supply of MMR vaccines will be available through the Wellness Center at the cost of $75.00 cash or check.

MMR vaccines can also be obtained through your Primary Care Physician’s offices, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid walk-in clinics and Urgent Care Centers that have an onsite pharmacy. Please call ahead to verify availability of the MMR vaccine. Click here to for a list of clinics/pharmacies near campus. 

On campus diagnosis and prevention

In the event of a suspected case of mumps, the Wellness Center staff will need to collect buccal, blood and urine specimens from the student.

The student will then be isolated until results are received.

Students that may have had direct contact with the individual would be encouraged to notify the Wellness Center.

Per CDC guidelines, if an outbreak occurs, it is recommended that students who have been exempt from mumps vaccination for medical, religious, or other reasons should stay home from school through the 26th day after the onset of parotitis in the last person with mumps at the affected school.


Some things people can do to help prevent the spread of mumps and other infections include:

  • Wash your hands well and often with soap.
  • Do not share eating or drinking utensils.
  • Clean surfaces that are frequently touched (doorknobs, tables, and counters) with soap and water or cleaning wipes.
  • Minimize close contact with other people if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.


We encourage you to contact Ursinus College Wellness Center at wellness@ursinus.edu or 610-409-3100 if you are experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed with mumps at another medical facility.