Mumps Outbreak At Fordham University Getting Worse: Was Response Adequate?

A mumps outbreak at Fordham University is spreading and is now affecting students on two campuses.

Although the overall total of those infected is relatively small so far, the number is increasing by the same factor each day.

On Thursday, university officials released a statement saying, in part, “the University community was notified that there has now been one case of suspected mumps reported at the Lincoln Center campus, and four new cases at Rose Hill. bringing the number of cases to 13 University wide” this week.

Before registering at the university, students must be inoculated with the MMR vaccine against mumps, measles, and rubella. However, the vaccination is not a full guarantee against contracting the virus.

Mumps is a viral disease which typically affects the salivary glands causing swelling and a rash, sore throat, headaches and fever; the initial symptoms can be mistaken for flu. Mumps is spread through contact with saliva and sneeze droplets.

A more serious effect on males after puberty is orchitis, which is a painful inflammation of the testicles that can occasionally lead to sterility.

There is no specific treatment for mumps, other than painkilling medication, and the disease usually runs it course leaving no long term effects.

The Fordham University administration is sending emails to advise students of the problem and lists precautions they can take against the virus, such as washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer.

Some students complained that the emails were not marked as urgent or important so did not pay attention to them.

Kira Forester, a student at the Bronz campus told PIX11News:

“I don’t check emails all the time… but it wasn’t that big of a deal, [the university] didn’t mark it as important or anything. That’s surprising that they didn’t make a bigger deal about it.”

However, another student, Kevin Noyola, said that the information provided by the university had been helpful:

“You’ve got to have common sense… Have sanitizer, take care of yourself. The [university] health center must be on top of things and they need to know how to spread awareness, how to take care of oneself. If they do that, I think we’ll be okay.”

Dr. Marguerite Mayers, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Montefiore Children’s Hospital, said that the standard series of two MMR inoculations ensure that around 90% of the people become immune to mumps.

However, Dr. Mayers also said that “the antivirus may have waned” for some people by the time they reach adulthood, and some of the people infected could be in that group. She also pointed out that the mumps are almost never fatal.

The university issued a statement, saying:

“all the students with suspected mumps infections have either returned home or have been isolated from other residents during the infectious phase of the illness.

Typically, mumps patients are contagious for two days prior to the outbreak of symptoms and five days after.”

Perhaps the only bright side for those infected is that after this attack of mumps, they should be immune from further serious attacks for the rest of their lives.