FAQs for Mumps Cases on Campus (February 26, 2020)

By | February 26, 2020


What is mumps? Mumps is an infectious virus passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. While the incubation period is 12 to 25 days, symptoms often appear 16 to 18 days after exposure.

What is the status of mumps on campus?  Since September 17, 2019, 77 people at the College of Charleston have been diagnosed with mumps. Information has been provided to students, faculty and staff regarding the prevention of mumps which includes checking your vaccination status and following guidance about vaccination. Monitoring for additional cases is also ongoing.

Why is mumps a concern? Mumps generally causes mild symptoms in people who are immunized. Symptoms usually go away on their own; however, mumps is easily transmitted, and some people experience complications.

In rare occasions, mumps can cause more severe complications such as deafness, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and death (very rarely).

What are symptoms of mumps? Symptoms of mumps may include: swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides, fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, testicular swelling and pelvic pain. Mumps virus may most commonly be known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw.

When do symptoms appear? Symptoms may begin 12-25 days after exposure.

When can the virus be transmitted? A person with mumps may be able to transmit it to others starting several days before symptoms of puffy cheek(s) and swollen jaw appear, until 5 days after the symptoms begin.

How is mumps transmitted? Mumps virus is transmitted via droplets in the air. The virus can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and releases tiny droplets of contaminated saliva, which can be breathed in by another person. The virus can also be transmitted by direct contact with saliva from an infected person.

How is the College responding? Student Health Services is working with multiple campus partners and state public health authorities and the Medical University of South Carolina to identify, treat and prevent mumps.

What is known about the cases?

  • Three cases were initially identified in mid-September. These individuals are based at the downtown campus and live in either different residence halls or off-campus sites. Their symptoms began between 9/15/19 and 9/21/19. Two more positive cases were identified between 9/25/19 and 10/2/19. Two positive cases were identified between 10/3/19 and 10/9/19. Two positive cases were identified between 10/10/19 and 10/16/19. Two more positive cases were identified between 10/17/19 and 10/23/19. Seven positive cases were confirmed between 10/24/19 and 10/31/19. Between 11/1/19 and 11/7/19, eight positive cases were confirmed. Between 11/8/19 and 11/14/19, 17 positive cases were confirmed. Between 11/15/19 and 11/21/19, eight positive cases were confirmed. Between 11/22/19 and 11/26/19, five positive cases were confirmed. Between 11/27/19 and 12/3/19, five positive cases were confirmed. Between 12/4/19 and 12/11/19, nine positive cases were confirmed. Between 12/12/19 and 12/18/19, five positive cases were confirmed. Between 12/19/19 and 1/8/20, one additional positive case was confirmed. Between 1/9/20 and 1/16/20, no new cases were reported. Between 1/17/20 and 1/23/20, no new cases were reported. Between 1/24/20 and 1/29/20, no new cases were reported. Between 1/30/20 and 2/5/20, one positive case was confirmed. Between 2/6/20 and 2/12/20, no new cases were reported. Between 2/13/20 and 2/19/20, no new cases were reported. And between 2/20/20 and 2/26/20, no new cases were reported. Since the outbreak was announced in late September 2019, the College has had a total of 77 confirmed mumps cases, all of which are no longer infectious.

Who was informed about these cases:

  • Students who live in the same residence halls/off-campus sites, classmates, members of the same student organizations and other exposed contacts to the students with mumps were notified.
  • All students, faculty and staff were informed via email about the initial two cases on Friday, September 20, 2019, and another message (email, text and push notification) was sent to campus on Monday, September 23, 2019. All students, faculty and staff have been informed via the Cougar Alert system (email, text and push notification) about the additional cases in weekly updates and President Hsu issued a statement and update on November 14, 2019. On November 22, President Hsu also provided travel tips for the Thanksgiving holiday. And on November 26, the College’s emergency management team continued its weekly updates.

How long should the College of Charleston community be watchful?  Secondary cases of mumps are possible through late February 2020. However, it’s always important to practice good hand-washing habits, to stay up to date on recommended vaccinations, and to stay away from others when ill.


If you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, please contact your doctor immediately.

Is the MMR vaccine you receive as a first or second dose different from the booster? No, it is the same exact vaccine. A booster refers to a vaccine dose given after a first dose of the same vaccine.

Why did some people get mumps if they are vaccinated? MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. Two doses of the vaccine are 88% effective (range: 66 to 95%) at protecting against mumps. One dose is 78% effective (range: 49% to 92%).

Should I get a titer (blood test) to check my immunity? Most individuals who have had doses of MMR will have a positive MMR titer immunity test, which measures antibodies to measles, mumps and rubella. If you are unsure about your MMR status (e.g., if you are not sure whether you have one or two doses of MMR), please check your immunization records first. If you cannot locate your immunization records, getting another dose of the MMR vaccine will help build your immunity.

If I’ve already been exposed to mumps, will getting the vaccine prevent illness? Vaccination after exposure is not harmful but it may not prevent illness from this exposure. Vaccination is recommended to prevent disease from future exposures. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF, page 255)

Should I get a third MMR vaccine? 

  • It’s recommended that all persons over the age of 12 months be up to date with MMR vaccine. All adults should have two doses of vaccine. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Information Statement for MMR for details about this vaccine.
  • A third dose of MMR vaccine is only recommended in certain circumstances. This is generally when there is a concern that a particular group of persons may be at higher risk for transmission of mumps. At this time, an additional dose of MMR vaccine is being recommended for members of fraternities and sororities and those who participate in fraternity and sorority activities.

How can mumps be prevented?

  • Vaccination is the best way to prevent mumps. Check your immunization record before getting vaccinated. If you have not received two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine or previously had mumps, you should call a healthcare provider to evaluate your needs. You should consult with your home doctor about needed vaccines, or use Student Health Services – see Immunizations.
  • Practice preventive measures, such as good hand hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid direct contact with saliva (e.g., kissing and sharing personal items like toothbrushes, bottles/cups and tobacco products).
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are sick to prevent infecting others.

Where can students get health care on campus? Student Health Services provides health care for students.

Did the College provide vaccinations on campus? Yes, due to the number of mumps cases on campus, the College of Charleston, in partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, hosted a free Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Clinic for its students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, September 25, and Thursday, September 26 in the Stern Student Center. The College held another targeted vaccination clinic on November 19 and 20 in the Stern Student Center.

How can I upload my vaccine documentation? For those students who need to update the College on their immunization records, please upload your immunization records electronically using the College’s Medicat system – the same system that students have been using for scheduling appointments in the College’s Student Health Center: https://cofc.medicatconnect.com/


What if I am exhibiting symptoms? Contact Student Health Services or a personal physician. If you have active symptoms, self-isolate by staying home from school, work and social gatherings until the contagious period passes, which is 5 days after the start of parotid gland swelling.

If I live on campus, what should I do? On-campus students and their roommates should contact Campus Housing at 843.953.5523 during business hours to receive assistance. During weekend hours, Residence Life is always available to assist through our on-call system. You may also go to your residence hall front-desk for assistance.

What can you do if you have questions or concerns? Students and others in the campus community may:

  • Call Student Health Services at 843.953.5520. Student Health Services can offer advice to help save students a trip to Student Health Services or local emergency care facilities.
  • Email Student Health Services at healthservices@cofc.edu.

Media inquiries can be directed to the College’s Office of Communications at 843.953.3395 or news@cofc.edu.