Football fans who traveled to Death Valley to watch the University of South Carolina face off against Clemson last month may have been exposed to the mumps, the state health department warned this week.
In fact, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control explained that anyone who visited or resided in Clemson University or Tri-County Technical College from Nov. 21-29 may have been exposed to the viral infection.
More than 81,000 people attended the football game Nov. 24.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps is a contagious viral infection with symptoms that can appear 12-25 days after a patient comes into contact with an infected person. To help prevent infection, DHEC highly recommends that children receive the MMR vaccine.
A single dose is 78 percent effective, and two doses are 88 percent effective against mumps. Children in South Carolina, with few exceptions, are required to receive these vaccines before they start public school. People who receive the vaccines as children are considered protected for life.
Some of the most common symptoms of mumps are headache, fever and swelling of the salivary glands under the ears. Though most people recover in a few weeks from the infection, complications can include deafness and inflammation of the brain, ovaries and testicles.
So far, there has been only one reported case of the infection connected to Clemson and Tri-County Tech.
"If you are vaccinated with MMR vaccine, your risk of mumps infection is lower; however, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms because even fully vaccinated individuals can contract the disease," DHEC officials explained in a press release.
Outbreaks of mumps have occurred in the past in college dormitories and classrooms where people have prolonged contact with infected individuals.
The infection can be spread by mucus and saliva through coughing, sneezing, talking and sharing food and drink items.
It is highly advised for an infected individual to avoid close contact with others. To prevent the spread of mumps, DHEC advises frequent hand-washing and an avoidance of sharing things like food, beverages, utensils and cigarettes.
The mumps warning in Upstate South Carolina follows several reported cases of measles in nearby Spartanburg County, where six patients were recently diagnosed with the disease.