What's New

May 9, 2017

Dear Members of the UW Community,

We have encouraging news about the mumps outbreak on the UW Seattle campus: The number of new cases has slowed considerably due in large measure to the diligence of our community members in following preventive measures. Since the first case in early February, we have had 38 mumps cases among people associated with the University, only six of which occurred in April.*

In order to continue this trend and bring a complete stop to the mumps outbreak, we encourage all members of the University community – on all three campuses – to continue following good preventive practices, including:

  • Make sure you’ve had at least two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Wipe down surfaces and objects that were touched by others.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, smoking devices and anything that touches your mouth.
  • Avoid coming into contact with sick people.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow.

If you become infected with mumps, we strongly recommend that you avoid contact with others to help stop the spread of illness.

Please contact your health care provider and stay home if you have symptoms of mumps.

  • swollen cheeks and jaw
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • testicular pain and swelling

If you have personal health concerns related to mumps, please contact your health care provider.

For more information on mumps, please visit the Hall Health website, email mumps@uw.edu or call (206) 616-8476.

Mark Jenkins, MD
Executive Director, Hall Health Center
On behalf of the UW Advisory Council on Communicable Diseases


*Correction: 12 cases of mumps were reported in April. For more information, please see the epidemiological curve showing data provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County


April 28, 2017

As of April 28, Public Health — Seattle & King County reports 37 cases of mumps associated with the UW Seattle campus.

Please visit the Hall Health website for additional information and tips to prevent the spread of mumps.

April 18, 2017

As of April 18, Public Health — Seattle & King County reports 34 cases of mumps on the UW Seattle campus.

Please visit the Hall Health website for additional information and tips to prevent the spread of mumps.

April 11, 2017

As of April 11, Public Health — Seattle & King County reports 31 cases of mumps on the UW Seattle campus.

Please visit the Hall Health website for additional information and tips to prevent the spread of mumps.

April 4, 2017

As of April 4, Public Health — Seattle & King County reports 26 cases of mumps on the UW Seattle campus. More cases are expected as the outbreak across King County and Washington State continues.

Please visit the Hall Health website for additional information.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mumps Outbreak on UW Seattle Campus

This message was sent to all students, faculty and staff from the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases

Dear Members of the UW Community,

You may recall receiving an email on February 17, 2017 notifying you about a case of mumps on the UW Seattle campus. As of March 22, Public Health - Seattle & King County has reported 20 cases of mumps in people associated with the UW Seattle campus, which so far have been concentrated among students in sororities and fraternities. However, we anticipate the number of cases among UW students will increase more broadly as the outbreak continues in King County and across Washington state.

Hall Health, the Environmental Health & Safety Department, Student Life and other University departments are working closely with Public Health - Seattle & King County to contain the outbreak and prevent further transmission. In addition, we are advising students, faculty and staff to take preventive measures to help stop the spread of mumps.

Please carefully read the information below, take steps to protect yourself and prevent others from getting sick. If you become infected with mumps, we strongly recommend you avoid contact with others to help stop the spread of illness. Please contact your healthcare provider and stay home if you have symptoms of mumps.

What is mumps and what are the symptoms?
Mumps is an illness caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, swelling of the cheeks and jaw, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, or testicular pain and swelling. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications.

How is mumps spread?
Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or sprays saliva while talking.

Mumps can also be spread by:

  • Sharing food, drinks, utensils, cigarettes or cellphones
  • Touching objects or surfaces touched by someone with mumps
  • Someone who has mumps going to a place where many people are gathered

Who is at risk for getting mumps?
A person can be at risk for getting mumps after coming into contact with an infected person. Students in communal living situations are at highest risk.

What can I do to prevent a mumps infection?

  • Make sure you've had the recommended two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine; it is possible to get infected with mumps even if vaccinated, however the risk is greatly reduced.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils and anything that touches your mouth.
  • Avoid coming into contact with sick people.

What should I do if I think I have mumps?
UW health officials are strongly recommending that a person who is infected with mumps avoid contact with others to help stop the spread of illness. People with mumps infection are contagious three days before and five days after the period when their cheeks or jaw swells.

If you are sick:

  1. Contact your healthcare provider.
  2. Stay home and not go to work or class for five days after the onset of swelling in the cheeks and jaw.
  3. Students with mumps can ask professors for options for completing their assignments and exams during their illness.

or more information and updates on the mumps outbreak, please visit the UW Hall Health website

Mark Jenkins, MD
Executive Director Hall Health Center
Chair, Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases

March 20, 2017

Safety Notice – Mandatory Action Required

A safety notice was issued for Genie® brand aerial work platforms due to potential control system malfunction. The malfunction could allow the operator to drive with the platform raised above the maximum allowable height, causing the machine to lose stability and tip over. Also, the malfunction could cause the platform to lower after the controls are released, resulting in unintended and potentially hazardous platform movement.

The models affected are GS-3232 and GS-4047. Please check your model and serial number listed in the safety notice.

If you have one of the affected units, please follow these steps:

  1. Remove from service (tag “Do Not Use").
  2. Follow the instructions for corrective action in the safety notice.
  3. Send a copy of the Safety Notice Completion Form to EH&S.

For more information, please contact Denise Bender or 206.221.0368.

March 20, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions about the Mumps Outbreak at UW

  1. How many mumps cases have been confirmed?
    As of March 20, Public Health — Seattle & King County has confirmed 17 cases of mumps at UW. More cases are expected as the outbreak across King County and Washington state continues.

  2. Where are the mumps cases located?
    The reported cases of mumps have been found in a small number of fraternities and sororities near the UW Seattle campus. The number of mumps cases and impacted houses changes daily as suspected cases emerge and are confirmed (or ruled out) by Public Health — Seattle & King County.

  3. How is mumps spread?
    Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or sprays saliva while talking. It can also be spread by sharing food, drinks, utensils, cigarettes or cellphones, and by touching objects or surfaces that may have been touched by someone with mumps. Mumps can spread if someone who has mumps goes to a place where many people are gathered.

  4. What are the symptoms?
    Symptoms include swollen cheeks and jaw, and sometimes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, or testicular pain and swelling.

  5. Who is at risk for getting mumps?
    A person can be at risk for getting mumps after coming into contact with an infected person, even if the non-infected person has had two doses of the mumps (MMR) vaccine. A non-infected person living with an infected person could be at risk.

  6. What can I do to prevent a mumps infection?
    The best course of action to prevent getting mumps is to make sure you’ve had two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils and anything that touches your mouth, and avoid coming into contact with sick people.

  7. What should a student do if he or she gets mumps?
    UW health officials are strongly recommending that a student who is infected with mumps avoid contact with others to help stop the spread of illness. People with mumps infection are contagious before and after the period when their cheeks or jaw swells. Students who are sick should stay home and not go to class for five days after his or her cheeks and jaw begin swelling. Students with mumps can ask professors for options for completing their assignments and exams during their illness.

  8. What is the UW doing to prevent the spread of mumps?
    The UW is working closely with Public Health — Seattle & King County to help stop the spread of mumps. We are sharing information with students and the campus community about the outbreak, including how people can protect themselves and prevent others from getting sick. We are also collaborating with Public Health — Seattle & King County to provide information and offer a third outbreak dose to the residents of impacted fraternities and sororities.

  9. What are the UW’s immunization requirements?
    Students are required to provide proof of measles vaccination prior to enrollment at UW. Close to 99% of students have documented proof of measles vaccination. The vast majority of those students are also vaccinated against mumps because the combined measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR) is widely used to vaccinate against both measles and mumps in the U.S.

  10. How effective is the mumps vaccine? Can a person who was vaccinated get mumps?
    The mumps vaccine is estimated to be about 88% effective. Although it is not 100% effective, it can significantly reduce the risk of getting mumps. There is a small chance that a person who received two recommended doses of the mumps vaccine can get mumps if she or he is exposed to an infected person.

  11. Why is mumps occurring in people who have been fully immunized?
    When many people have been vaccinated in a setting where mumps cases are occurring, most of the vaccinated people are protected, however, mumps cases can still occur in a small percentage of people. Although a minority of vaccinated people may get mumps during an outbreak, the risk is greatly reduced, meaning that many more people would become ill in the absence of vaccination. Read more about the effectiveness of the mumps vaccine on the Public Health — Seattle & King County blog.

  12. How many doses of the mumps vaccine are recommended?
    The general recommendation for students is to receive two doses of the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, which meets the measles requirement for UW enrollment. Based on information gathered at other mumps outbreaks, there is some evidence that a 3rd dose of the MMR vaccine can provide additional protection. During the week of March 6-10, in an effort to control the outbreak Public Health — Seattle & King County offered a 3rd dose of MMR (also called an “outbreak dose”) to students at high risk.

  13. Should everyone at UW get an outbreak dose of the mumps vaccine?
    Public Health — Seattle & King provided outbreak doses of MMR to control the spread of mumps within a clearly defined population at increased risk to prevent it from spreading more widely. The outbreak dose is not recommended for people outside the currently defined high-risk population, which includes residents of sororities and fraternities with active mumps cases. This defined population may change over time based on new and emerging cases.

  14. I think I may be at risk for getting mumps. Should I get an outbreak dose of the mumps vaccine?
    If you think you might be at risk for getting mumps, you should contact your health care provider. It may be possible to get an outbreak dose of MMR from your personal health care provider or at a local pharmacy.

  15. Is there a test to find out if I will get mumps?
    There is no test to determine a person’s risk for getting a mumps infection.

  16. How is mumps treated?
    There is no specific medical treatment for mumps. Caring for mumps is similar to caring for a common cold. Check with your health care provider to determine what pain relievers and fever reducer options are best for you. Public Health — Seattle & King County strongly recommends that a person who has been diagnosed with mumps stays home and avoids contact with other people to prevent the spread of illness.

  17. Can you provide information about the students who have mumps?
    Privacy laws prevent us from revealing any identifying information about students infected with mumps. We cannot share information about health status, class registration, or residential location.

For more information, please visit Public Health - Seattle & King County

February 21, 2017

Public Health — Seattle & King County recently confirmed a case of mumps in a UW student on the Seattle campus. This case may be related to a larger mumps outbreak in Washington state, which includes a number of cases in South King County.

At this time, we do not know of any additional mumps cases at UW. However, mumps cases continue to be reported throughout the state. As a precaution, we notified the UW community to take steps to prevent mumps infection in the event that an exposure occurred on campus or elsewhere.

What is mumps and what are the symptoms?

Mumps is an illness caused by a virus that can cause fever, headache, and swelling of the cheeks and jaw. In rare cases, mumps can lead to more serious complications that may require hospitalization. Up to 30% of people with mumps infection will have no symptoms.

How is mumps spread?

A person with mumps can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It can also be spread by sharing cell phones, telephones, keyboards, cups, forks, or other utensils and devices, and by touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Who is at higher risk of getting mumps?

  • Babies less than a year old
  • Children over 1 year of age who have not received at least 1 dose of mumps vaccine (MMR)
  • Adults born in or after 1957* who have not been vaccinated or had mumps before. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, please contact your healthcare provider.

Note: Persons born before 1957 probably had mumps as children and are usually considered immune.

How can you reduce your chances of getting mumps?

  • Get mumps vaccine (included in the MMR vaccine), if you have not already had two doses.
  • Stay away from anyone who has mumps.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Don't share phones, cups, spoons, forks, and other utensils or devices.
  • Even if you are vaccinated, there is a small chance you can still get mumps, so all students, faculty and staff should be diligent about monitoring symptoms and staying home if ill.

What to do if you think you have mumps:

  • Call your healthcare provider if you have the signs of mumps: fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen cheeks or jaw. Tell them about your symptoms and that you may have been exposed to mumps.
  • Wear a mask if you need to be around others.
  • Be aware of the means of spreading mumps, as described above.
  • Stay home and away from other people until you see a doctor.
  • DO NOT GO TO SCHOOL OR WORK FOR FIVE DAYS AFTER YOUR CHEEKS OR JAW BECOME SWOLLEN. This includes staying away from people in your household as much as possible, so they don't get sick.

Additional information about mumps: Public Health - Seattle & King County

February 16, 2017

Announcement: Update regarding TB on UW Seattle Campus

In October 2016, a student on the UW Seattle campus was diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB). That student is responding well to treatment and is no longer infectious.

In the fall University health officials worked closely with the local health department, Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), to determine who was at risk of contracting TB based on their exposure in classes or housing. Staff from Hall Health Center sent 120 emails and letters, and they held an in-person meeting with roommates, to encourage students at risk of contracting TB to be tested.

During the winter Hall Health is continuing to encourage students to come in for testing. Students who were tested in October should return for a follow-up test because TB has an eight-week incubation period. Because the eight-week incubation period has passed, those who were contacted in the fall but were not tested can now receive just one TB test. Students should go to Hall Health for testing as soon as possible if: a) you received a letter encouraging you to get tested for TB and you have not been tested, or b) you were tested in October and have not yet returned to Hall Health for a repeat test. Hall Health’s phone number is 206.685.1011. If you were not contacted directly by Hall Health Center in October, you do not need to be concerned about your exposure to the individual with TB, and your risk of exposure to this person is exceptionally low.

Since October, 28 students on the UW Seattle campus have tested positive for TB infection. Only one student (the initial case) has had active TB disease. The other 28 students have “latent TB infection.” Unlike active TB disease, people with latent TB infection cannot spread TB to others and are not ill with the disease. Although they are not contagious or ill now, they could develop active TB in the future and infect others, which is why Hall Health offers treatment to those with a positive TB test. Without treatment, a person with latent TB infection has a 10% chance of developing active TB disease during their lifetime. If a person with latent TB infection takes the antibiotic treatment, the risk of developing TB disease reduces to 0.5-1%.

University health officials do not recommend TB testing for the general public because the disease is not easily passed from person to person. However, if you are concerned, you should contact Hall Health Center (206.685.1011) or another healthcare provider.

Information about TB can be found on these Center for Disease Control (CDC) and PHSKC websites at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program .

Please note: The information in this article is not a substitute for medical care or healthcare advice. Anyone concerned about contracting latent TB infection or active TB disease should consult with a qualified healthcare professional.

October 28, 2016

The University recently informed the campus community that an individual at the University’s Seattle campus was diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB). University health officials are working collaboratively with the local health department, Public Health - Seattle & King County (PHSKC), in their investigation. If you have not been contacted directly by Hall Health Center, you do not need to be concerned about your exposure to the individual with TB, and your risk of exposure to this person is exceptionally low. The Hall Health website has information at http://depts.washington.edu/hhpccweb/tuberculosis-on-campus-what-you-need-to-know. Information is also available on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and PHSKC websites at http://www.cdc.gov/tb/default.htm and http://kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/communicable/TB.aspx . Again, unless you were contacted directly by Hall Health your risk of exposure is exceptionally low and no action is needed

October 21, 2016

EH&S recommends that organizational units of the University ban Galaxy Note7 smart phones from campus buildings due to potential overheating and fire as reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Other Samsung Galaxy phones are not affected. More information is available on the CPSC website.

September 26, 2016

EH&S has completed testing in the School of Dentistry in the Health Sciences Building.  Water from sampled taps in the School of Dentistry clinics meets water quality parameters for residual chlorine consistent with Seattle Public Utilities’ standards.

September 22, 2016

On September 22, EH&S began monitoring chlorine and temperature levels of the water system in the School of Dentistry clinics located in the Health Sciences Building. EH&S responded to the request of the Dental School to perform water testing due to factors related to service provision to medically vulnerable patients. Chlorine and temperature are being tested at representative point-of-use locations to ensure they are within the expected range.

Hyper-chlorination of the water system in the Cascade Tower of UW Medical Center was completed the evening of September 20 to eliminate the Legionella bacteria.  The UW Medical Center is working with Public Health — Seattle & King County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on water management efforts.

For more information, please visit the UW Medical Center website.

September 20, 2016

Please remember that drinking from water fountains will not put you at risk for developing Legionnaires’ disease. Inhalation of aerosolized water  that contains Legionella — through  mists or droplets — poses a health concern for those who are already ill or have a compromised immune system.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella must be inhaled to pose a health risk.

For more information about the UW Medical Center, please visit UW Medical Center’s website.

September 19, 2016

Campus Engineering confirmed that the plumbing system serving the UW Medical Center’s Cascade Tower does not cross-connect to other plumbing systems in the UW Medical Center or Health Sciences Building.  The UW receives its water from the City of Seattle, and after arrival in the Cascade Tower, backflow prevention and other devices prevent cross-connection to water systems in other areas.

On Monday, September 19, the UW Medical Center will begin treating water in the Cascade Tower with a chlorine solution that is circulated through the water system and then flushed. UWMC will continue testing of all water systems until they are negative for Legionella.

September 16, 2016

Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease, was detected in several water sources at University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) recently. Water sampling by UWMC has concluded that the bacteria was found in the Cascade Tower of the hospital.

Legionella is a bacteria that exists naturally in freshwater environments. It grows best in warm and stagnant water, and it can spread in man-made water systems such as hot tubs, hot water tanks, plumbing systems and air conditioning units for large buildings. Legionella is contracted by breathing in a mist or inhaling aerosolized water particles. Less commonly, it’s contracted by aspirating water – when the water goes down the windpipe to your lungs. It does not normally spread from person to person.

Water systems that are sufficiently chlorinated are not at risk for carrying Legionella, according to the Centers for Disease Control. All water supplied to UW by Seattle Public Utilities is treated with chlorine and routinely tested for chlorine levels. Recent tests of water samples have been determined to have a chlorine level sufficiently high to eliminate the risk of Legionella existing in the water system on UW Seattle campus.

While there is no evidence that Legionella exists outside of the UWMC’s Cascade Tower, EH&S is partnering with Campus Engineering to evaluate water systems outside the UWMC Cascade Tower.

Although Legionnaire’s Disease is quite rare (about 5,000 cases are reported annually), people who are at higher risk are over 50 years old, have a weak or suppressed immune system, past or present smokers, and those with chronic lung disease. Most people don’t get sick after exposure.

As Legionella can grow in warm stagnant water, it is recommended that you let water run through faucets or showers for a minute before use if they have been sitting idle for more than one week.


Common Questions about Legionella

What is Legionella?

It’s a bacteria that exists naturally in freshwater environments. But it grows best in warm and stagnant water, and can spread in man-made water systems such as hot tubs, hot water tanks, plumbing systems and cooling towers which are a component of air conditioning systems for large buildings.

How does it spread?

Legionella is spread by breathing in a mist or inhaling aerosolized water particles. Less commonly, it’s spread by aspirating water – when the water goes down the windpipe into your lungs. It does not normally spread from person to person.

How does UW prevent the spread of Legionella?

Water systems that are sufficiently chlorinated are not at risk for carrying Legionella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All water supplied to UW by Seattle Public Utilities is treated with chlorine and routinely tested for chlorine levels that meet federal and state drinking water regulations. Recent tests of water samples by Seattle Public Utilities were determined to have a chlorine level sufficiently high to eliminate the risk of Legionella existing in the water system on UW Seattle campus.

Who’s susceptible?

You’re at higher risk if you’re older than 50, have a weak or suppressed immune system, are a past or current smoker, or have a chronic lung disease. Most people don’t get sick after exposure.

What are symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?

Coughing, shortness of breath, fever, headache and muscle aches. It’s a serious type of pneumonia.

How common is it?

It’s quite rare, with about 5,000 cases reported annually in the United States, usually in hospital settings among patients with compromised immune systems.

Can I drink the water at the UW?

Currently, we have no evidence that the drinking water system at UW presents a health risk and all data from Seattle Public Utilities indicates that UW water meets drinking water regulations.

The UW Environmental Health & Safety Department is partnering with UW Campus Engineering, public health experts at the Washington State Department of Health Drinking Water Division, and Seattle Public Utilities engineers to evaluate water systems outside the UW Medical Center Cascade Tower.

What can I do?

Because Legionella can grow in warm stagnant water, EH&S recommends that you let water run through faucets or showers for a minute before use if they have been sitting idle for more than one week.

Here are some additional resources:

CDC page on Legionella

UWMC press conference

For more information, contact Mark Murray, Assistant Director, Building & Fire Safety, 206.543.7262


Lab Safety Initiative

Aug 8, 2016

The University of Washington is launching a two-year Laboratory Safety Initiative as part of a national movement to build a better culture of safety in university research laboratories. This initiative is intended to lead to the development and implementation of services, approaches, best practices, and tools that significantly improve laboratory chemical safety throughout the University. For more information on this initiative, the people working on it, safety tools and resources available through EH&S and other sources, inspection and auditing groups that visit research spaces, and reports of safety-related incidents at UW, as well as around the nation, visit the new Lab Safety Initiative website.

Current Editions of EH&S News

The July 2016 edition of EH&S News is now available.

  • 3-D Printer Safety
  • Nitric Acid Incident on Campus
  • Gear Up for Summer Safety
  • UW Fire Drill Procedures Change
  • Animal Researchers: Meet HoverBoard
  • New Policy on Asbestos/Regulated Building Materials
  • Preparing for a Hazardous Waste Inspection
  • New Autoclave Safety Guidelines
April 2016
  • Is the Lithium Battery in Your Device Safe?
  • Your Health and Safety Committee
  • Preparing Your Laboratory for an Earthquake
  • Outdoor UW Events May Require a Permit
  • Do You Need a Temporary Food Permit for Your UW Event?
  • Staff Spotlight: John Kelly
  • What's New: New State Regulation of Radioactive Material, OSHA Announces Final Rule Lowering Silica Exposure Limit
February 2016
  • UW Safety, Sustainability, and Preparedness Expo
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Laboratories
  • 2015 UW Work-Related Injury and Illness Summaries Now Online
  • Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Stenberg
  • What's New: New Chemical Waste Management Video, New EH&S Training Record Lookup

See more editions at ehs.washington.edu/news.

Print your own Safety Training Certificates

So you want a safety training certificate for the Asbestos class you took last week, well now you can print a copy for yourself! Simply follow the link to My EH&S Training, and you can print certificates for classes (with about one week delay) you have taken through Environmental Health and Safety. Enjoy!