TERRE HAUTE —
A Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student has been diagnosed with mumps, and there are at least six other “probable cases” of mumps in Vigo County, according to the Vigo County Health Department.
Those affected range in age from 17 to 50, and most of the individuals involved report having received age-appropriate vaccinations. “Everyone in the situation so far has been linked together,” said Joni Wise, health department administrator.
In addition, a group of ISU students who attended a party on Jan. 24 with the diagnosed Rose-Hulman student have been informed of their possible exposure to the highly contagious disease.
Because of the resurgence of mumps in the Midwest, the public needs to be aware it may be at risk of contracting mumps, Wise said. The department has been working to identify those most at risk from exposure.
The Rose-Hulman community was notified Thursday through an all-campus email from President James Conwell. Also, Rose-Hulman’s Office of Student Affairs worked to identify and notify students, faculty and staff who had direct contact with the student diagnosed with mumps, said Mary Barr, college spokeswoman. Parents also were notified.
On Tuesday, ISU notified its campus community after learning about the Rose-Hulman mumps case on Monday, said ISU spokesman Dave Taylor.
Mumps, a viral infection similar to the flu, typically starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. After that, symptoms include salivary gland swelling, in one or both glands; a patient’s face swells, sometimes on one side, but more often on both sides, Wise said.
Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12 to 25 days after infection. There is no cure or specific treatment for mumps, but bed rest, fluid intake and fever reduction is recommended to reduce symptoms, according to the health department.
Most mumps transmission likely occurs before the salivary glands begin to swell and within the five days after the swelling begins. Therefore, health officials recommend isolating mumps patients for five days after their glands begin to swell.
The mumps investigation isn’t limited to Vigo County. So far, it can be traced to the University of Dayton, where a Terre Haute resident who attends the university was in contact with another student who had mumps-like symptoms.
The University of Dayton student from Terre Haute went on vacation with family and friends from Terre Haute. “That’s where the link begins,” Wise said.
There’s also been a related case at Marian University in Indianapolis. “We’re not only looking at Vigo County, we’re looking at the Indiana State Department of Health working with us, the Marion County Health Department and the Ohio state health department,” Wise said.
The Vigo County Health Department wants to make the public aware “that mumps is out there,” Wise said. To prevent it from spreading, people should get vaccinated, wash their hands and stay away from others if they are sick with mumps.
Even those optimally immunized, with two doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), can still get the disease; the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. The Vigo County mumps cases could involve a variation not covered by the MMR vaccine, Wise said.
Some of the six Vigo County “probable cases” went to their doctors, who initially ruled out mumps because they saw the patients had two MMR vaccines.
The health department advises:
n People born before 1957 are considered immune to mumps because exposure to the disease was common when they were young. Those born during or after 1957 should check to see if they have had two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) immunizations or have had mumps.
n If you have not been immunized with two doses of MMR and have not had mumps, it is recommended that you contact your health care practitioner for appropriate immunization.
n The vaccine is not 100 percent effective, so some cases might occur in people who have been vaccinated. The effectiveness of the MMR vaccine is 80 percent after one dose and 90 percent after the second does
n Those who are pregnant or have a compromised immune system should consult their physician.
Health care providers should report all suspect cases to the local health department where the patient resides.
“If you believe that you may have been exposed to someone who has experienced mumps-like symptoms, call the Vigo County Health Department at 812-462-3431,” Wise said. “Our public health nurses can answer your questions and evaluate your need for additional follow-up.”
Taylor, ISU spokesman, said there hasn’t been any panic on campus. “We’ve made sure students, faculty and staff are aware and we’ve notified them about what to watch for,” he said.
Barr said Rose-Hulman’s health services office has been monitoring the situation, and the college has been reviewing records to ensure students are fully immunized.
Because of good immunization coverage, mumps is now rare in the U.S., according to immunize.org. An estimated 212,000 cases occurred in 1964, while 454 cases were reported in 2008.
Large outbreaks of mumps occurred in the U.S. in 2006 and 2009-10, with more than 6,000 and 4000 cases, respectively, reported in those years, according to cdc.gov.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.