— -- The Arkansas Department of Health is investigating a mumps outbreak that may have infected hundreds of people.
A total of 427 suspected cases of mumps are being investigated in the state, with the majority of them children, the department reported on Friday.
More than 30 schools in the state have reported one or more student contracting the mumps virus. The health department is requiring any student with a MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine exemption to stay home for at least 26 days if they were exposed to the mumps virus. If students get the MMR vaccine, they will be able to return to school immediately.
The mumps virus can be spread through coughing, sneezing, talking or sharing eating utensils, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is known for causing swollen salivary glands that result in puffy cheeks or jaw. Additionally, it can cause fever, headaches, muscle aches and loss of appetite. The recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine is approximately 88 percent effective at preventing a mumps infection.
In rare cases, the virus can cause more severe complications, such as swelling of the brain, ovaries or testicles. Most people recover from the disease in a few weeks, according to the CDC.