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Archive for Friday, April 7, 2006

Mumps outbreak worsens

KU students make up 16 of 21 confirmed cases

April 7, 2006

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Kathy Colson, RN, with the Douglas County Health Department makes calls to investigate the recent outbreak of mumps in Lawrence. By contacting people who have gotten the mumps Colson and other RN's are trying to connect the links and learn more about the increase in mumps.

Kathy Colson, RN, with the Douglas County Health Department makes calls to investigate the recent outbreak of mumps in Lawrence. By contacting people who have gotten the mumps Colson and other RN's are trying to connect the links and learn more about the increase in mumps.

Ten more cases of mumps have been found in Douglas County, health authorities said Thursday, bringing the total to 21.

Sixteen of the cases are Kansas University students.

KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz said the university was e-mailing students and their parents, alerting them to symptoms and asking for help to prevent further spread of the virus.

"We're going to recommend they isolate themselves," Bretz said of students who have contracted the illness. "That means if you're from Overland Park or Johnson County or someplace, that's to return home and stay away from classes or work for nine days following the onset of symptoms."

Students in on-campus housing who can't easily get home will be asked to confine themselves to their rooms, she said, and the university will provide them with special services.

State and local authorities said they hoped the Lawrence outbreak would not approach the levels of epidemic in Iowa, where more than 300 cases have been diagnosed.

"Anything is certainly possible when you have a contagious illness, and when you have numbers growing like we're seeing in Douglas County," said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands that is passed through saliva and causes swelling in the jaw, as well as headaches and fever. Health workers recommend frequent hand-washing and other hygienic measures to prevent its spread.

Kansas mumps

Kansas mumps

In rare cases, the virus can cause meningitis and encephalitis in victims. Usually, however, it causes more discomfort than danger.

That's why KU officials aren't contemplating drastic action, such as suspending classes if the illness continues to spread.

"Generally, it doesn't last a real long time," Bretz said. "It's not a real serious disease, but it does make you uncomfortable."

But the outbreak is being taken seriously.

"It's a concern," said Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Health Department, and has been since the first cases were announced a week ago.

Six of the 21 cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests. Watson said that if the outbreak continues, KDHE might end testing rather than be overwhelmed with tissue samples.

Dr. Patricia Denning, chief of staff for KU Student Health Services, will give an update on the outbreak at 2:30 p.m. today.

Comments

canyon_wren 8 years, 8 months ago

Has there been any information as to whether the people contracting mumps have been vaccinated against them as children? I forget whether that is part of the regular vaccination kids get (it seems like it is), but if so, I can't believe all those cases involved people who weren't vaccinated--and if they were, that is kind of scary. What would have gone wrong?

Also, I recall that they USED to say if a male contracted mumps when he was an adult, it caused sterility. Is that still a danger?

stargazer 8 years, 8 months ago

MRR shots are given in first year, and again before entering Kindergarden.

lawrencian 8 years, 8 months ago

Most students have also had to get an MMR booster as they enter KU, at least that is how I remember it... How long does the booster help, anyway?

Rossp 8 years, 8 months ago

Are mumps just in the glands or do you get bumps in your mouth too?

SAHM2tylrnathan 8 years, 8 months ago

Part of the MMR booster issue when I was in grad school in the early '90s was that in the mid-late '60s there apparently was a batch of vaccine that was not entirely effective (or was given at the wrong interval--something odd like that) and they began requiring boosters at KU if you fell into the affected years (I was born in '67 and was on the edge--I didn't have to get one, but they offered it free and I took it). I would assume they still require you to show proof that you had the entire set of shots or get a new one. I know some people had to get a new one because they didn't have their immunization record available. At the time, I think they may have been more worried about measles than mumps too.

This makes you wonder if we are really protected or if they are going to have to add another booster later in life. Mumps is so so rare now we haven't seen it challenge the vaccine in the US very often.

Adrienne Sanders 8 years, 8 months ago

The article in today's UDK says that the person mentioned in the article had the MMR shot in 2003. Makes you feel real safe, eh?

On the other hand, why is everyone making such a big deal over an illness that's about as severe as the common cold??

Canyon_wren, I read another article which I believe said there's a 20% chance of mumps effecting male fertility.

TheEleventhStephanie 8 years, 8 months ago

My husband had an MMR vaccine recently, at age 31, as part of an immigration medical exam for the INS. The doctor told him that mumps in adult men CAN cause sterility.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

My brother had mumps as a kid, and he has three kids. The danger of sterility is pretty low, even lower if you stay in bed and stay still.

Bumps in your mouth? No...I had the mumps as a kid, and you don't get bumps in your mouth. It hurts like hell every time you swallow, but that's the worst of it.

Avoid anything really salty or hot. Eat ice cream from time to time to soothe the throat. Wait a week or so and it will be over.

And after that, you have lifetime immunity, without having to get a shot.

gr 8 years, 8 months ago

In other news, there is a epidemic outbreak of the common cold. Health care workers are seriously concerned.....


"We're going to recommend they isolate themselves," Bretz said of students who have contracted the illness.

Someone needs to start asking questions and holding people accountable.

Here's some questions that come to my mind:

Why is there a recommendation to isolate themselves? If everyone else has had the vaccine, there would be no risk of catching it, right? Only the ones who chose not to get the vaccine would be at risk and maybe they think catching the disease is better than the hazards of the vaccine.

Aren't students required to be vaccinated for mumps? Why is there an outbreak? Did large numbers slip through the forced injection program? (I'm thinking of a Star Trek show here. Someone's not being medicated properly.)

Are mumps vaccinations not working? If so, is there any point to continue them? Only because it "might" help to some unspecified degree but still cause worries of an epidemic?

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