(RxWiki News) Mumps is now a fairly rare occurrence in the US, thanks to routine vaccination programs. However, outbreaks can still occur, as some residents of one US state are seeing.
An outbreak of mumps that started at The Ohio State University is growing, both on campus and in the wider community of Columbus, Ohio.
Health officials are asking that the public check their vaccination records and stay home when ill.
"Avoid close contact with people when you are sick."
Mumps, which often causes symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen salivary glands, is usually not severe, but can in some cases cause serious complications like encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is usually spread through infected respiratory droplets, like when an infected person coughs, sneezes or shares an eating utensil.
According to the latest update released by Columbus Public Health on the afternoon of April 3, 123 mumps cases had been reported in the county, 99 of which have been tied directly to the outbreak at The Ohio State University (OSU).
This count is more than double the 56 cases reported two weeks earlier, on March 21, when health officials announced the outbreak had spread off-campus.
Of the 99 patients tied to the university, 78 are OSU students, nine are OSU staff, one patient is a family member of someone at the university, and 11 patients are members of the wider community who have a link to OSU. The university outbreak patients are between the ages of 9 and 58 years old and zero have required hospitalization.
The 24 patients not tied directly to the OSU outbreak fall between the ages of 2 and 55 years old. Four of these patients have required hospitalization.
As the outbreak investigation continues, area health officials are encouraging people at a higher risk for mumps to make sure they are vaccinated. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is now routinely given to young children in two doses, but not everyone in the US receives the vaccine.
"Anyone who has not received any doses of MMR and those who have received only one dose of MMR should be vaccinated," said Columbus Public Health. "Additionally, people born before 1987 are likely to have received just one or no MMR doses and should also be vaccinated."
Columbus Public Health also noted that people whose parents or guardians objected to vaccinations may be at increased risk. The department urged people to check with their healthcare provider to review their vaccination record.
The OSU Student Health Services division stressed the importance of avoiding close contact with others while sick with the mumps, an effort which can help stop the virus' spread.
"If you develop symptoms of mumps, please stay home from work, school, sports and all public gatherings for five days after symptoms start," stressed Student Health Services. "You should seek medical care to be properly diagnosed."