ROANOKE, Va. – Nearly 150 cases of the mumps have been reported in Virginia so far this year. That is more than triple the average number of cases.
Many of those cases were found earlier this year in college-aged students, according to the Department of Health.
Five James Madison University staff members and 14 students tested positive earlier this year.
According to a new study, recent cases may be a result of the reduced effectiveness of the mumps vaccine over time. A pediatric infectious disease expert at Cleveland Clinic says mumps can be dangerous because it's easy to spread.
"When you have a vaccine that's ninety percent effective and it's a very contagious virus, so that when it's introduced into a community, if you have individuals who don't have protection against it, it really spreads very rapidly," said Dr. Camille Sabella, with Cleveland Clinic Children's.
Recently updated vaccine guidelines allow for a third dose of measles- mumps- rubella, or MMR, vaccine in the event of a mumps outbreak.
Mumps is a virus that causes fever, fatigue, chills, loss of appetite and puffing in the cheeks. It's transmitted by small droplets in the air and also thru close personal contact.