Mumps Virus Spreads into the Heartland

Mumps Virus Spreads into the Heartland
By: Arnold Wyrick
Carbondale, IL - An outbreak of the mumps virus is making it's way across our nation. Now seven suspected cases of the illness have appeared in Jackson County. One confirmed case is on the SIU campus, and two others are awaiting laboratory results.
Now SIU Health officials are asking anyone who thinks they may have the virus to stay indoors.
"That's because 20 % to 30 % of the people that have the mumps are a-symptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms what so ever. But could potentially spread the virus," says Doctor Deedra McLain at SIU Health Center.
The university requires all incoming students to have all of their immunizations. And SIU Health officials say they have a 99.6% compliance rate with vaccinations for the virus. But young adults are still being infected.
"It's kind of scary. I don't really want to get the mumps. I've never had the mumps. I don't even know what it entails. Or if it goes away, or if you can get it again. Or if it's really contagious," says Sarah Bowman an SIU student.
Carla Griffin at the Jackson County Health Department says the virus can spread easily among humans.
"It's spread through contact with saliva, or nose and throat secretions from person to person. You can cough up this virus. It can be airborne in that way," Griffin said.
Which is why health officials in the county, and at the university are warning anyone who may have symptoms to stay indoors.
"If you have been exposed there's nothing that really can be done. No type of oral medication or immunization to prevent the exposed person from developing symptoms," Doctor McLain said.
So far one student living in Mae Smith Tower, and Allen Hall are suspected of having mumps.
"We're sending out a letter to all of the students who live in those two buildings to explain what the symptoms are, and what they should do if they suspect they are infected. Do not come to the health center, or any other facility without calling first. As this may expose others to the illness," says Larry Dietz, Ph.D. SIU Vice-Chancelllor of Student Affairs.
The symptoms to look for with the mumps virus are ear aches, swollen neck along the jaw bone near the ears, and or a slight fever. The symptoms can last from 5 to 9 days. And it can take up to another 12 days to completely overcome the illness in order to not be contagious to other humans.
This is the first time a case of the mumps has shown up on the SIU campus in more than 18 years.