AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - More cases of the mumps are being reported in Texas, and now doctors are seeing the disease affecting more college students.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports a spike in college aged cases within 2015 and 2016.
"I think that most of the outbreaks recently have been college aged students, which is common even with meningitis," said Texas Tech Pediatrician, Dr. Rachel Anderson. "A lot of time with meningitis, students catch it because they are in such close quarters. That's how they get the disease."
Amarillo did not have any reported cases of the mumps in this last year but with this rare disease on the rise, physicians are now watching patients more closely, as mumps symptoms can mimic the flu.
"The disease is not necessarily dangerous but it is contagious," Anderson said. "People do get sick from it but very rarely, they can have pretty serious side effects. The more rare side effects are when people become deaf. Some may even having trouble with fertility after being affect."
However, Anderson said those side effects are rare and usually occur when someone catches the virus without knowing they have it.
When someone catches the mumps, it may take up to 12 days before symptoms show.
Mainly, the virus will affect the glands in the mouth and cause muscle aches and fever.
Currently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) requires children to have two vaccinations against mumps before starting school, but if cases continue to rise, physicians feel a third vaccination can be a solution.
"The CDC did start requiring a meningitis vaccine before college, which will probably help decrease our rates in meningitis," Anderson said. "So, it's possible they will do that with the mumps and have that decrease as well but at this time, it's still a pretty rare disease."
Texas and Oklahoma are two states that have seen some of the highest outbreaks.
Last year, North Texas had more than 50 outbreaks, while in 2011 the whole state only had 20 reported cases.
In December 2016, Texas had more than 200 mumps cases.
There were over 5,000 reported cases of mumps in the U.S. during 2016, but in 2015, there were about 2,000.
If you want to see all of the reported mumps cases in the United States, visit the CDC website.