SAN DIEGO - A student at the University of San Diego was diagnosed with mumps last month, and another student also probably has the rare disease, county health officials announced Friday.
It was unclear how the undergraduate student confirmed to have the highly contagious viral disease contracted the virus that causes it. Just one to three mumps cases are reported each year in San Diego County, and are usually related to travel overseas, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.
HHSA officials said there have been outbreaks of mumps, for which there is no cure, at several colleges and universities in the Midwest and East Coast.
"USD has been working closely with the county to notify individuals who were directly exposed to the mumps cases," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "The school community was notified when the first case was diagnosed last month and we are encouraging immunizations for students and staff who are not up-to-date."
Mumps is spread by coughing, sneezing or close contact with an infected person. The virus causes a fever, headache, earache, and inflammation of the salivary glands that results in swelling and tenderness at the angle of the jaw.
Severe complications are rare, but can include meningitis, decreased fertility, permanent hearing loss, and, in extreme cases, fetal loss during first trimester of pregnancy, county health officials said. However, most people recover without problems.
According to the HHSA, the best way to prevent mumps is by getting the MMR -- measles, mumps and rubella -- vaccine.
Two doses of the vaccine are recommended -- one at 12 to 15 months of age and another at 4 to 6 years of age. A third booster shot is recommended for those in close living conditions when there is an outbreak.
10News obtained this email that was sent to all students Friday:
On March 1, I issued an important email about a confirmed mumps case on campus. The patient, a fully immunized nonresidential undergraduate student has recovered fully and is now back on campus.
In light of additional confirmed or suspected cases, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency has issued an important message to University of San Diego students. Please read the letter from Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology & Immunizations Services Branch, Public Health Services here. Dr. McDonald recommends that all undergraduate students and residential staff receive an additional dose of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine regardless of prior MMR vaccination history. Graduate students, faculty and staff are at lower risk due to more limited close contact exposure and an additional dose of MMR vaccine is currently not recommended for these groups, although any member of the USD community may receive it.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Pamela Sikes, MS, FNP-BC
Director, Student Health Center
University of San Diego