The mumps outbreak has spread beyond Ohio State.
Now at 63 cases, the outbreak has been declared “community-wide,” according to releases from Columbus Public Health.
A total of 45 cases are affiliated with OSU. There are 36 OSU students, four OSU staff members, one family member and four people with OSU community links who have the mumps. Eighteen people without OSU links have been diagnosed in the community at large.
Dr. Teresa Long, Columbus Public Health commissioner, said in a released statement that preventative measures are highly recommended.
“During a community outbreak, protection against mumps is critical to our good health, our family’s health and our community’s health,” Long said. “Mumps can lead to serious complications in people who are not vaccinated, especially adults. If you have not been vaccinated against the mumps, or do not remember if you have received the protective vaccine, get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The Columbus Public Health releases encouraged anyone who has not received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to get vaccinations.
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 earlier this month those who have received two doses of the MMR 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.
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.”
Some OSU students said they’re hoping everyone gets vaccinated.
“I’m up to date on all my vaccinations and I make sure I stay on top of that so that’s, I rely on that to protect me. It is kind of scary though if you got a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated,” said Thomas Tekieli, a fourth-year in biology. “One of the things we learn about in microbiology is a lot of people who don’t have vaccinations, they can kind of decrease something you call crowd immunity, which is if you got a lot of people who are vaccinated, the virus can’t really be in the community too much, but if you got people who aren’t vaccinated, it can travel through them. And even people who are vaccinated, if they get a high dose, they can be affected by it.”
Tekieli said, though, he thinks the outbreaks provides a valuable learning opportunity.
“I would say this should be a time to really drive public education about vaccines. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of fears,” he said.
Kelsey Ryan, a second-year in neuroscience, said she’s been worried about catching the mumps because she knows someone who has caught it.
“I’m a little paranoid. Every time I start to feel sick, I think I’m getting the mumps,” she said. “There was a case in the research lab I work in, one of the researchers has it, so I’m a little leery about that.”
Ryan works in a lab in the Psychology Building.
“(The woman who has mumps works) in the lab next to mine but I think she’s staying away,” she said. “I got an email today about, you know, ‘If you feel sick don’t come into the lab. We don’t want to spread the mumps any more than it already is.’”