Mumps virus alert in Richmond

The Richmond City Health Department has confirmed a case of mumps on VCU’s campus this morning. The university asked community members to ‘self-isolate’ and check vaccinations to prevent the spread of the illness.

Although VCU has only seen one confirmed case of mumps so far, nearby University of Richmond has reported over 30 cases. Director of Student Health Services Dr. Margaret Roberson said it would not be surprising if more cases arose at VCU.

“There are cases periodically around the country and part of that is because there has been unfortunately a decline in childhood immunizations and people can be exposed when they travel abroad,” Roberson said.

All members of the VCU community are encouraged to check their vaccination histories for two doses of the mumps vaccine and alert Student Health Services if they develop symptoms of the disease.

“The most important thing is check your vaccinations status … second is if you’re ill stay at home so you don’t spread it to others,” Roberson said.  She recommends washing hands frequently and cleaning high volume areas like doorknobs and computers to prevent contagion.

The mumps virus is a rare and contagious disease whose symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness and swollen or tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

The virus spreads through droplets from the skin and mouth of an infected person. Severe complications of the disease are rare and most people recover at home with symptomatic treatment, Roberson said.

“It’s great that most of our students have been vaccinated,” said Roberson. But the vaccine, known as MMR, is only about 90 to 95 percent effective.

Because there is no immediate treatment for the disease, students are advised to “self-isolate at home” and for at least five days after they notice symptoms to prevent spreading of the virus.


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