At least three University of Michigan students were recently diagnosed with mumps, according to a campus-wide email sent Tuesday from Robert Ernst, the executive director of the University Health Service, which provides health care services to University students, faculty and staff.

“I want to assure you that we are coordinating with campus partners, Michigan Medicine, and state and county public health authorities to identify, treat and prevent mumps,” Ernst wrote in the email.

According to a Washtenaw County Health Department fact sheet, the virus, which Ernst said is “fairly easily transmitted,” is spread through droplets in the air, such as from coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of mumps can appear 12 to 25 days after the initial exposure and include headaches, fever, and swollen cheeks and jaw.

Ernst noted severe complications with the virus can sometimes occur, which include encephalitis, meningitis and deafness.

Mumps can be prevented by vaccination, though Ernst said mumps can cause some non-serious symptoms even in people who have been immunized. It is also possible for people carrying the virus to not display any symptoms. Ernst said a person with mumps could remain contagious until five days after symptoms begin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the implementation of the U.S. mumps vaccination program in 1967 decreased recorded cases of mumps by 99 percent to less than 1,000 cases per year. In both 2016 and 2017, however, the number of mumps cases recorded nationally was above 6,000, “mainly due to multiple mumps outbreaks reported across the country in settings where people often have close contact with one another, like college campuses.”

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