Skip to main content
Health Services

FAQ: Mumps

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. Mumps likely spreads before the salivary glands begin to swell and up to five days after the swelling begins.

To help protect yourself and prevent the spread of mumps:

  • Follow the MCPHD and CDC immunization guidelines.

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water.

  • Sneeze and cough into a tissue or elbow. Properly dispose of tissues and clean your hands after coughing or touching respiratory secretions.

  • Avoid sharing utensils, food, or drinks.

  • Avoid sharing cigarettes or other types of smoking devices (hookahs, e-cigs, vaporizers).


What are the symptoms of mumps? What if I think I have the mumps?

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Mumps can cause:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the salivary glands
  • Pain with chewing or swallowing 

About one-third of people who contract the mumps virus do not develop any symptoms.

More information on mumps.

What if I think I have the mumps?
  • If you have generalized pain (myalgia), malaise, headache, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, swelling on one or both side of your mouth (salivary gland), or pain in your jaw, these symptoms could be an indication of the mumps.
  • Isolate yourself from others and seek medical attention.
  • You MUST go to a designated location to be tested for the mumps. Urgent care centers will not have what is needed to test you for mumps. Testing for mumps is very specialized and must be done properly:
    • Go to Health Services located in the HRC.
    • Go to an Emergency Room at a hospital.

Are there mumps cases on the Butler campus?

Butler University has confirmed several cases of mumps among our campus community. The cases were first identified on Thursday, February 11, and confirmed Friday, February 12, by the Marion County Health Department. All diagnosed individuals have been isolated and will not return to campus activities until they are symptom-free.

What is the University’s response?

The University is taking proactive measures to prevent the further spread of mumps in our community:

  • Anyone who is diagnosed is isolated and will not return to campus activities until they are symptom-free.
  • Our facilities teams are thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting public spaces at a higher frequency. 
  • We have encouraged students, employees, and visitors to wash their hands regularly, avoid individuals who appear to be sick, and stay home or visit their physician if they are showing signs or symptoms of illness.
  • Under the guidance of the Marion County Public Health Department 4,000 vaccinations were given proactively to the campus community to prevent further spread of the mumps.

Does Butler have a vaccination requirement for students?

Students at Butler University are required to be vaccinated against mumps prior to their first year, as a matter of state law. Unfortunately, vaccination is not 100 percent effective. For the mumps specifically, two doses of the vaccine are only considered 88 percent effective at preventing infection, so people who have been fully vaccinated still can contract mumps.

During this outbreak, the Marion County Public Health Department recommended that Butler students, faculty, and staff receive a booster MMR vaccine.

Can visitors come to campus during this time?

Butler University, including our academic, arts, athletics, and recreation facilities, remain open. 

How did the mumps get here?

There are a lot of theories about why this continues on many college campuses like:

  • High-risk, close living conditions
  • Introduction of possible infections from travel abroad programs or international programs where immunizations are not regulated like the United States. Individuals may be sick before they have symptoms and unknowingly introduce the virus into the community.
  • Weakening immunity and close living conditions create an environment where the virus can thrive.
  • Individuals who are not properly vaccinated that contract the infection will also expose other vulnerable individuals.
  • Students transferring to a university from another university that was having an outbreak.  

I had the vaccine as a child; why isn’t it working?

  • Butler University has had a long-standing policy requirement for students to provide immunization records at admission. You would have been given two MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines as a child. Studies have shown the mumps component to become less effective over time and, in some people, they may only have 80 to 85 percent protection as an adult.
  • There have been studies that support giving a third MMR as a booster in an outbreak situation, to raise your immune response and reduce/slow the spread of the infection during an outbreak.
  • Living in a close-knit, fully residential setting—places like our community—put us at higher risk of exposure to respiratory infections like the mumps.

Are these serious complications from the mumps? Why have some people been asked to leave the campus during this Outbreak period?

Yes, while less common, serious complications can include:

  • Encephalitis, inflammation of the brain
  • Meningitis, inflammation of the spinal cord
  • Orchitis, Oophoritis (testicular swelling in males and ovaries of females) that can affect fertility
  • Deafness
  • Pancreatitis
  • Miscarriage risk is increased during pregnancy

While the mumps infection may be mild in some individuals, for people who have no immunity, are immunocompromised and cannot be vaccinated, pregnant or have other medical conditions, the infection can be life threatening.

MCPHD and ISDH have mandated these vulnerable individuals be off campus during the outbreak period in the interest of protecting their health and reducing their risk of infection.

Are there other universities with mumps outbreaks?

Yes, there are known cases at the following universities:

  • University of San Diego (5)
  • Harvard University (13)
  • Boston University (3)
  • Tufts University
  • University of Massachusetts—Boston
  • Bentley University
  • University of Southern Maine
  • Indiana University (12)
  • Butler University (23)
  • IUPUI (3)
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Louisville 

Now, there are even reports of new cases in elementary, middle, and high schools in Montana and cases expanding in Monroe County just outside of Indiana University.

Return to