Close to 20 University of Richmond students may be suffering from the mumps.
The university is warning the campus about the outbreak, which heightened since early March. Virginia Health Department officials say they have lab-confirmed five to ten cases of mumps. Another ten patients showed symptoms which may be resulting from the virus. University officials say they wasted no time in warning everyone on and off campus. Emails were mass sent to students, parents, faculty and staff.
"They sent emails to us and our parents. My parents definitely mentioned something to me about it," said student Sarah Stewart.
Most children in the U.S. are immunized for MMR - measles, mumps and rubella. Generally, you can't get into schools, including the University of Richmond, without those shots.
However, doctors say that doesn't mean a rare outbreak of the virus can't happen.
Dr. Parham Jaberi of the Virginia Department of Health says mumps is a similar virus to a cold or flu.
"(Symptoms can be) fever, headache, muscle aches. People feel tired. They may have a loss of appetite," said Jaberi.
Another common symptom of the mumps is swollen cheeks. Patients may also develop other inflammation of other organs, including testicular inflammation in men.
Mumps is contagious. It's transferred through droplets of body fluid, mainly saliva. The best way to avoid mumps is to over your mouth and wash your hands.
"This illness, very similar to the flu, is spread through droplets. So, coughing and sneezing in close quarters." continued Jaberi.
"I'm certainly a little worried, so I'm definitely washing my hands more than usual," said Francis.
Doctors say mumps is usually not serious and can be fended off in a few days. The Virginia Health Department is trying to figure out why this mumps outbreak is happening. Officials say international traveling may be to blame. They also say there are universities in nearby states having incidents of mumps.
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