Two more cases of the mumps have been confirmed by the College of Charleston after an outbreak of the virus was announced in September.
This brings the total number of mumps cases at the college to seven.
The outbreak began with three cases of the virus being confirmed last month. According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the three cases were a mix of both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Last week, two additional cases of virus were confirmed.
The mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that early symptoms typically include headache, fever, loss of appetite, tiredness and muscle aches.
Dr. Jonathan Knoche, a medical consultant for the Bureau of Communicable Diseases at DHEC, said the virus is similar to a cold in that it can be transferred through droplets from coughing and sneezing.
But with a common cold, it often takes two to three days for someone to start showing symptoms after exposure. With the mumps, symptoms show up later.
“We won’t know until another week or two that the person has mumps," he said.
The best way to handle an outbreak of the virus, he said, is by encouraging everyone to get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Knoche said that a person with the vaccine is nine times less likely to get the mumps. But it is still possible for them to get the virus, especially when in close contact with a person who has the virus.
“You can imagine, in a college setting, students are around other people for a long period of time," he said.
In a press release, college health officials said they are in the process of notifying close contacts of people who have been confirmed to have the virus. They are also still processing student vaccination records.
For those students who have not received the MMR vaccine, the school recommends that they get vaccinated and bring a copy of their updated vaccination records to Student Health Services.
Students can also send in updated immunization records electronically through the college's Medicat system.
To attend the College of Charleston, incoming students are asked to either present their updated immunization records, or sign a waiver stating that they are declining to be vaccinated. The college maintains about 12,000 student medical records on file. Of those, nearly 200 students signed a vaccine waiver.
Getting the vaccine now will not protect anyone who has already been exposed to the virus, but college officials explained that it can help with future exposure. For those students who have been potentially exposed, they are advised to monitor for symptoms.
Knoche also advised students to frequently wash their hands to and avoid sharing drinks and straws.