Mumps continues to make a comeback this year, recently hitting Ohio State University after making the rounds at Fordham University last month. The number of infections in reports steadily increased: 11, then 13, 23, and finally 28. Victims included students and a member of the OSU staff.
Since students have returned to campus after spring break, the issue has become preventing the virus from spreading throughout the student body. Many are wondering how to protect themselves from the virus.
The measles, mumps, and rubella or MMR vaccination is the standard prevention tool in stopping such outbreaks from occurring. The vaccine is 80% effective in protecting a person from catching mumps. The virus' resurgence has raised many questions about dropping vaccination rates, caused in recent years by faulty research indicating a connection between autism and vaccinations and further bolstered by anti-vaccine advocates such as Jenny McCarthy.
Thankfully, 90 percent of U.S. children still receive their recommended vaccinations, enough to maintain herd immunity against mumps. 15 U.S. states do fall below the 90 percent, but neither Ohio nor New York made that list.
Why the mumps outbreaks, then? Experts are not sure, but the cloistered college environment may be a cause. 80 percent effectiveness is plenty short of foolproof, especially on a crowded campus of over 50,000 students that does not require standard vaccines for admission.
As such, experts are reiterating the time-tested prevention tips of frequent hand-washing and absolutely no drink sharing. The mumps are infectious for a full 25 days, and five of those are before most people even know they are infected. Watch for common symptoms such as fever, headache, and loss of appetite, as well as the more serious telltale sign of mumps: salivary gland swelling.
The OSU Student Health Services tweeted an endorsement of the MMR vaccine, along with some extra advice to those sickly but dedicated students thinking of attending classes while ill.
— Buck MD (@buckmd) March 18, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons