Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mumps unwanted guest on graduation weekend

May 16, 2006


If you're a virus in Lawrence, this is a dream weekend.

Thousands of people crammed into Memorial Stadium, inches apart, for a couple of hours. The chances to jump from old host to new host would be good.

Which is why state officials are warning Kansas University graduation-goers to be careful when they gather this weekend, on the tail end of a mumps epidemic that has struck campus hard.

"If you spend an hour with somebody who has mumps, within 3 feet of them, that's when you become at risk," said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The spread of the virus - there have been 231 cases diagnosed in Douglas County as of Monday - appears to be slowing across the state, Watson said.

"We are starting to trend downward, but it's still early in the process to determine that it's the direction that we're headed," she said.

In Douglas County, though, mumps numbers are "still pretty steady," said Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Health Department.

"We're thinking once KU classes end it will go down, because they're all going to disperse," she said.

That might mean KU students carry the virus to far corners of the state and nation. Health officials have been trying to spread word of mumps precautions.

"That is very possible," Tirol-Goodwin said of KU students spreading the epidemic. "That is a concern."

Officials are advising graduates who have had mumps symptoms in the nine days leading to Sunday afternoon's commencement to stay home.

Tirol-Goodwin said health authorities expect some people will disregard that advice; mumps carriers are asked to wear a face mask if they attend graduation ceremonies.

"Some people will violate that," she said of the health recommendations. "We have to be realistic."


gr 11 years, 10 months ago

"If you spend an hour with somebody who has mumps, within 3 feet of them, that's when you become at risk," said Sharon Watson

Hmmm. I thought not getting vaccinated put you at risk. Do you think she's trying to say vaccination doesn't really protect you and that you should be concerned attending graduation?

compmd 11 years, 10 months ago

I would like to walk around campus sunday wearing a tshirt that says in small print, "if you are close enough to read this you now have mumps."

gr 11 years, 10 months ago

Can you get some t-shirts made before that time? I bet you could sell a few.

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