UT student tested positive for mumps

For the first time in more than 30 years, an UT student has tested positive for the mumps virus.

"We received word back yesterday of those results, that they were indeed positive for Mumps," said UT Medical Director Dr. David Vander Straten.

While mumps can be very contagious, UT doctors said at this point they do not fear an outbreak.

Over the last four years, there has only been two other mumps diagnosis in Travis County. Health professionals hope with the high rate of mumps immunizations this latest case will stay isolated.

"So one case, it's going okay. We do have some unimmunized people in our community, so we are worried about the spread, but panicked about it, no. By no means are we panicked about it," said Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Health Educator Coleen Finnegan.

The mumps virus can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be contracted by sharing saliva such as using the same cup or kissing.

Symptoms of the mumps include headache, swollen glands, fatigue and achy muscles. Occasionally, the virus can cause serious complications including swelling of the testicles, meningitis or deafness and very rarely death.

UT doctors said they are watching closely and taking precautions for anyone who came into contact with the infected student. Administrators said the diagnosed person did attend a party at a fraternity on Saturday, three days before visiting the health clinic.

"You're contagious about 5-7 days before your symptoms begin and you're contagious until about 4-5 days after you start having symptoms. So there can be times you're spreading the disease and you don't even know you're going to be sick," said Finnegan.

Since meeting with a doctor the infected student was told to stay home alone. So far no one else has reported symptoms consistent with the virus to the university.

"If they know that they don't have symptoms and have been vaccinated, their chances, their likelihood of any sort of infection or concern around this issue is again remarkably low," said Vander Straten.

Health professionals said even if other students do contract the mumps they may not know it. There are no symptoms in about 50 percent of cases.

UT doctors said Thursday is the last day the infected student is considered contagious. If the person feels up to it, they could be back in classes at the university tomorrow.

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