HAMILTON, NJ --  Hamilton Township residents received startling news in the mail on Wednesday that a student at Grice Middle School has a confirmed case of the mumps. The letter from the Hamilton Township School District, and cosigned by Hamilton Township's Health Officer, did not identify the student, when they tested positive, or if there are any other students currently being monitored for symptoms.

The District noted that mumps, now a rare disease in the United States, is spread by "mucus or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes." In addition, parents and guardians of Grice students were reminded that an infected person typically does not show signs of the virus for an average of 16 to 18 days or up to 25 days after infection.

According to the Mayo Clinic's website, some individuals infected with the mumps may not have any, or only mild symptoms, of the disease that can appear about two to three weeks after exposure to it. The Clinic says that the "primary sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out" with other symptoms such as pain while chewing or swallowing; fever; headache; muscle aches; weakness and fatigue; and loss of appetite.

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The Hamilton School District letter noted that the mumps vaccine -- typically as part od a combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine -- is the "best way to prevent mumps."  Preventative measures including proper hand-washing, not sharing eating utensils, and regularly cleaning items such as toys, tables, and doorknobs with soap, water, or disinfecting cleaning wipes. The District added that there is "no specific treatment for mumps" but advised "bed rest, fluids, and fever reduction." 

Anyone with concerns regarding the mumps is encouraged to contact their respective school nurse or the Hamilton Township Division of Health at (609) 890-3884.