Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We are writing today to inform you that an Amherst College staff member has a suspected case of mumps (yet to be confirmed by pending laboratory testing). During the period when the staff member was contagious, they were in close contact with only four people on campus--all staff members--on Monday, December 16 and Tuesday, December 17. These four people have all been identified and we have reached out to them. We have no reason to believe anyone else on campus was exposed to the virus that causes mumps, but we are nevertheless sharing this information out of an abundance of caution.
If you have not been directly notified by the Health Center or a supervisor, it has been determined that you are at no or very low risk and further action on your part is not necessary.
Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then most people will have swelling of their salivary glands. This is what causes the puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw. While it can be extremely uncomfortable, it rarely leads to significant illness or complications. You could be at increased risk if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system.
Most members of the College community are immune to it, since the mumps vaccination is part of a regular schedule of shots infants in our country receive. It is worth noting that even though the vaccine has drastically reduced mumps cases, outbreaks still occur, most commonly among groups of people who have prolonged, close contact (e.g., by sharing water bottles or cups, kissing, practicing sports together, or living in close quarters) with a person who has mumps. Some vaccinated people may still get mumps if they are exposed to the virus. However, disease symptoms are often milder in vaccinated people. Additional information about mumps can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html
Again, if you have not been notified directly by the Health Center or a supervisor, it has been determined that you are at no or very low risk and further action on your part is not necessary.
If you know the identity of the sick individual, we ask that you respect the privacy of that person and not discuss it with others. We also ask that you refrain from speculating about the situation. We appreciate your consideration in this matter.
If you remain concerned about your own health, you should contact your primary care physician to confirm your immunization status and obtain medical advice. During the semester, students can access these services through the Keefe Health Center at 413.542.2267.
The health and well-being of our community is our utmost concern. As such, we will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if and as necessary.
We wish our colleague a speedy recovery.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Dr. Emily Jones
Director of Student Health Services