Corpus Christi, Brasenose and LMH have all issued emails warning students of a mumps outbreak amongst the student population.
Cherwell also understands that cases of mumps have been reported at Univ, Oriel, Hertford, and Queen’s.
In an email addressed to “all students and tutors”, Corpus Christi’s Welfare Dean and College Nurse wrote that: “A number of students have been diagnosed with mumps so we thought it important to send out a message advising students what they need to look out for and what to do if they think they have mumps and advising tutors that mumps is circulating amongst the student body.”
LMH similarly warned students: “There has been reported cases of mumps in college. Mumps is a contagious viral illness which is troublesome to students particularly at exam time.”
Corpus Christi quoted the diagnosis of mumps from the NHS website as follows: “Mumps is a contagious viral infection. It is most recognisable by the painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive “hamster face” appearance.
“Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands.”
The email further advises students to “See the College Doctor (but inform the receptionist that you think you have mumps so they are aware prior to your arrival at the surgery) or contact the College Nurse. “Rest, drink adequate fluids, and take paracetamol or ibuprofen for symptomatic relief.
“Apply warm or cold packs to the parotid gland as it may ease discomfort. Do not attend tutorials, lectures or interact with other students for 5 days after the initial development of parotitis (inflammation of a parotid gland). If you are able to go home it would be advisable to do so.”
Brasenose’s domestic Bursar Grahame Smith similarly told students: “Given the infectious nature of mumps we will be following the advice of the College nurse, and request that any infected student is placed in effective “quarantine”.
“We will make appropriate arrangements with the kitchen for food to be taken to such students’ accommodation rather than hall.”
The email from Corpus also reminded students that: “Mumps is usually a self-limiting condition. It will usually resolve over 1–2 weeks, with no long-term consequences and antibiotic treatment is not required.”
Oxford was previously affected by a mumps outbreak at University College in October 2018. In May 2017, an outbreak of mumps occurred in colleges across the University, causing disruption to exams and sports fixtures. At the time, Cherwell reported that as many as several dozen students were affected across the University, including major outbreaks at Exeter, Corpus Christi, and St Anne’s.
Mumps is an airborne virus transmitted through coughing or sneezing, and is easily spread through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces, hence the need for students with the illness to be quarantined in their rooms or go home. In serious cases, it can cause deafness and meningitis.
Many students will already be vaccinated against mumps, since the MMR (measles, mumps and Rubella) vaccine is part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination schedule. After both doses of this are given, the vaccine provides 95% protection against mumps. Most people who have been infected by the mumps virus will develop a life-long immunity to further infection.
If you are worried that you might have contracted mumps contact your GP for advice.