CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Southeast Missouri State University now reports 54 confirmed cases of students with mumps.
According to SEMO News Bureau Director Ann Hayes, as of April 27, 23 students are suspected of mumps and are probable. No testing was ordered for this group of students because they had a high exposure to other students who previously tested positive. There are currently six student cases pending.
Hayes said 40 students who were suspected tested negative for mumps.
School leaders believe the peak of the mumps outbreak has passed, but expect to see more positive cases on campus and in the community.
On March 3, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recommended that all Southeast Missouri State University students consider getting a third dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The university also hosted a vaccination clinic specifically for fraternity and sorority members on March 7. Then, on March 9 and 10, all Southeast students were able to get an updated vaccination.
"It's not going to hurt you. If you need a documented case you could probably call the school that you attended. They may still have your records. If there is no record whatsoever, and you don't have one yourself, and you have no clue of when that last vaccine could be - yes, get vaccinated. It's not going to hurt," said Vanessa Pressley, a Public Health Nurse for The Cape Girardeau County Health Department.
The university is also upping its cleaning schedule of high-touch areas like computer labs and dining centers.
Dr. Bruce Skinner, Assistant Vice President of Southeast Missouri State University, said students should be careful about contact with others.
"Mumps is highly contagious, but mumps is a frail virus, meaning it's not contagious unless you're in very close proximity to people," he said. "So, large gatherings of people where you are shoulder to shoulder is where you're most at risk. If you're walking through a dining area, or walk by someone going to class, very low risk. But, close proximity for extended periods of time are when you're most at risk and that's why we ask people to self-quarantine if you suspect you have mumps."
Dr. Skinner said if you think you have the mumps to self-quarantine and go to the doctor. Make sure to let them know you have the mumps so you aren't contagious in a waiting room.
Hayes said students should follow this page for information.
In December, the university reported two unconfirmed reports of students with mumps.
On February 8, the university posted an update saying they received two confirmed reports of students infected with mumps. They said both students were away from campus when they were diagnosed and recovered and returned to campus.
The reports at Southeast come after a mumps outbreak on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia reported the past fall.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the majority of cases continue to be reported among university students, but new cases epidemiologically linked to the outbreak are now beginning to occur in persons outside of the university setting.
An outbreak of mumps was also reported in northwest Arkansas and there are reported cases in several other states.
You can click here for more information from Southeast Missouri State University on mumps, symptoms of mumps and mumps prevention.