Three individuals at the College of Charleston have tested positive for the mumps virus.
Based on these three cases, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has labeled this situation as an outbreak.
Since the first case was confirmed on Sept. 17, 2019, College health officials and student affairs staff have been working around the clock to provide support to all affected individuals in each of these cases, including notifying classmates, roommates, friends, colleagues and others who may have come into contact with the individuals who tested positive.
The College also continues to work closely with DHEC and the Medical University of South Carolina to stop the spread of this virus on campus and to ensure that the academic and student life functions of the university continue with minimal disruption.
In addition to isolating the individuals who tested positive, College health officials have been verifying student immunization records to identify and contact those who may be at higher risk of contracting the virus. Assisted by health professionals from MUSC, the College will conduct a vaccination clinic on campus this week to provide high-risk individuals with access to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. It’s important to note that even people who have previously had one or two doses of the MMR vaccine can still contract mumps.
In South Carolina, state regulations allow for colleges and universities to set their own policies for immunization requirements. The College has an established pre-matriculation immunization policy that is consistent with the recommendations of the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Students can be granted an immunization waiver based on medical or religious reasons. But in the event of certain communicable disease emergencies, these exempted individuals can be excluded from campus activities in order to protect the health and welfare of the campus community.
Mumps is a contagious viral infection that may result in parotitis, which causes swelling in the cheek and jaw area below the ear. Other common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms and often do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks. Mumps can occasionally cause complications including deafness, inflammation of the testicles, brain, tissue covering the brain, ovaries, and breasts. Mumps is spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat.
More information about mumps and the MMR vaccine is available on the DHEC website at https://scdhec.gov/mumps.