Mumps is called a "childhood" disease, but the latest outbreak began on an Iowa college campus and spread to surrounding states. University of North Carolina Epidemiologist Dr. David Weber said North Carolinians need to be prepared.
"Given the fact that it's involved such a large area, and that it's particularly prevalent in high school to college-age students, I think there's a real chance in the next several weeks or months we will, in fact, see some cases here," he said.
Weber said mumps is a mild disease, compared to things like whooping cough, measles and chicken pox. There is no rash, but usually there are swollen salivary glands under the jaw, a fever and headache. Some people experience more severe symptoms.
"Mumps, in the days when we saw it quite a bit can also lead to bilateral deafness," Weber said. "But again, these are very unusual complications of mumps," Weber said.
Mumps can also involve swelling of the testes in men and ovaries in women and rarely leads to infertility. It can also, in rare cases, cause meningitis.
One of the ways to protect yourself from mumps is from vaccinations. If you only received one mumps vaccine when you were very young, a booster shot would increase your protection.