Fordham University in the New York City area is experiencing a mumps outbreak that has hit multiple campuses of the university. There have been 13 reported cases of individuals with mumps at the university since January. The latest nine cases have been reported in the last few days and have occurred on two of the university’s campuses. The Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan and the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx have been affected by the outbreak. All Fordham University students have been informed of the outbreak in order to take proper precautions.
The university advised they sent home or isolated the students that presumably have the mumps virus until they are no longer infectious. The Center for Disease Control advises that those affected are contagious for a few days before until 5 days after symptoms occur. Therefore, the students are being isolated for approximately 5 days until they are no longer considered contagious.
Symptoms of the mumps virus begin like most other viruses with headache, a fever, and loss of appetite. The best known symptom of the mumps virus is swelling of the salivary glands under the chin known as parotitis; however, only 30-40 percent of those affected by the mumps virus actually experience that symptom. Some individuals with the mumps virus will not experience any symptoms or have non-specific cold symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and congestion. Therefore, lab work is needed to positively confirm a mumps diagnosis.
The virus is spread by coming in direct contact with saliva or mucus from an infected person such as when they talk or sneeze, or touching affected surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose. After exposure, symptoms usually appear in approximately 12 – 25 days. There is a vaccine for the mumps virus, which every student is required to have upon attending Fordham University in order to prevent these types of outbreaks especially on multiple campuses; however, having the vaccine does not guarantee to prevent infection. Typically, the vaccine is administered in the United States to children in two doses. The first does is given between 12 – 15 months of age with the second dose given around 4-6 years of age, or prior to a child starting kindergarten. The second dose can be given sooner as long as there are at least 28 days between doses. The second does is intended to cover anyone that did not respond to the first dose. The Center for Disease Control advises that a small percentage of individuals may still not have immunity after the second dose.
Outbreaks of the mumps vaccine used to be rare due the vaccination requirements in the United States; however, there have been an increase in reported cases of mumps in recent years. The Center for Disease Control reported 6,000 cases in 2006 and 3,000 cases in 2009-2010. People who have had the mumps once typically do not get the virus again.
As multiple campuses at Fordham University have been affected by the mumps outbreak, any students experiencing symptoms should seek attention at the health centers. The best protection against the virus is vaccination.
By Jennifer Bridge