The top Ohio State academic official distributed a message encouraging professors to accommodate students with mumps in their classes as the number of cases reported around OSU rose to more than 30.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 32 cases have been reported at or near OSU. Twenty six are students, two are staff members, one is a family member of an OSU student, faculty or staff member and three are listed as having strong OSU community links, according to the Columbus Public Health daily mumps outbreak count.
OSU Provost and Executive Vice President Joseph Steinmetz sent an email to faculty and staff Wednesday asking them to support anyone affected by the outbreak.
“The recent outbreak of mumps on the Columbus campus has all of us concerned. While relatively few students have been affected, any number is too large, and the university is taking precautions to ensure that the outbreak is controlled as rapidly as possible,” Steinmetz said. “Those precautions include Student Health Services and Columbus Public Health’s urging students who have fallen ill with mumps to stay home and avoid school, work and other public settings for five days after their symptoms appear. This request means that affected students will be unable to attend school, perhaps for several days.
“If you have such students in your classes, I ask that you offer them all reasonable accommodation to make up any quizzes or exams, labs, class activities, or other work they’ve missed while sparing their classmates from possible infection.”
Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It can spread through coughing, sneezing or contact with saliva or mucus.
According to the CDC website, the disease can be carried without any symptoms.
Those who are affected by mumps might have swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on the side of the face, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and inflammation of the testicles in men, according to the CDC. The website also says there is no specific treatment for mumps, but it is usually gone in a week or two.
Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for Columbus Public Health, said those who have received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine still have a 10 to 20 percent chance of being infected.
OSU students are not required to get an MMR vaccination unless it is a specific requirement for their program, as is the case for some medical programs, according to the Student Health Services website. Students interested in a vaccination are able to receive one through health services after a screening.
Bailey Johnson, a first-year in architecture, said she thinks frequent interaction between students on campus could facilitate the spread of the virus.
“It does make me nervous, because you do come into contact with a lot of people here, and I definitely don’t want it. That’s scary,” Johnson said.
Other students, though, said fears of mumps are likely overblown.
“It sucks that it’s a thing, but I don’t think anyone should be freaking out about it. I’m not worried,” said Austin King, a second-year in economics.
Emily Kacsandi, a third-year in theatre, said her fears were tempered after she found out she had been vaccinated.
“It makes me a little nervous, but I apparently I have the vaccine. I didn’t know, but I asked my mom and she said I did. So I’m not that nervous because even if it’s really contagious, you’d have to be around someone who has it, and I feel like I haven’t been,” she said.