VCU students received emails from VCU Health last week reporting two confirmed cases and one suspected case of mumps on campus. Other cases have been reported in the Richmond metro area, and health officials are cautioning students and residents to take precautions.
“VCU students need to be aware of the risk of mumps in their community, take precautions to avoid mumps infection and seek out medical care if they suspect they might have mumps,” Vice Provost Charles Klink said in the email.
These cases of mumps comes within weeks of mumps cases being confirmed at several Henrico schools. According to CDC, the first signs of the mumps are usually a few days of fever, headaches, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite, followed by swelling of the salivary glands. The disease is preventable by the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine, which most children receive before age 4.
It is unclear whether the VCU students or students at other universities received the MMR vaccine. However, even with the vaccination, prevention of the virus is not guaranteed. One dose of the vaccine is about 78 percent effect and two doses roughly 88 percent effective.
This is not the first time the mumps have hit campuses across the states. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, multiple universities have reported cases in 2017 alone.
According to WTOP, two cases of mumps were also reported at George Washington University; U.S. News and World Report reported Monday that Kansas State reached 15 cases of mumps since February; Louisiana State University confirmed 20 cases as reported by WAFB on March 28; The Seattle Times reported that the University of Washington found 20 cases of mumps that were concentrated in the university’s Greek system; Western Illinois University, Appalachian State University and others are all on also the list of universities that have broken out in cases of the mumps in the past few weeks.
Melissa Viray, deputy director for the Richmond City Health District, said no correlation has been found between the outbreaks and university campuses. However, mumps do spreads easily when people are in close contact with each other, such as attending the same class or living in the same dormitory.
“I think what we are seeing overall, not just in mumps but other preventable diseases, is that people are less afraid of diseases like measles, mumps and polio that they don’t push getting a vaccine as much,” Viray said. “They may not vaccinate their kids on the advised schedule, and it puts their children at risk.”
The CDC recommend two doses of the MMR vaccine received at a young age. Even if students have received the MMR vaccinations, students should take extra precautions to avoid the mumps – wash hands regularly, do not share food or drink and stay home if sick.
Mary Lee Clark
Mary Lee is a senior studying journalism. She currently interns for RVAmag and GayRVA.com, in addition to writing for the CT. She previously worked as a makeup artist at Darkwood Manor, did lighting design at Trackside Theater (where she is now on the Board of Directors) and photographed for the Page News and Courier.
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