As of Monday, 63 mumps cases have been reported in one Ohio county
Of those, 45 are linked to The Ohio State University campus
Mumps can occasionally lead to serious complications, the CDC says
An outbreak of mumps, first reported at The Ohio State University, has spread beyond campus and into the community, health officials said.
As of Monday, 63 cases of mumps were reported in Franklin County, Ohio, according to Columbus Public Health. Forty-five of those are linked to the university outbreak, said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for the health department.
“The university cases have occurred in men and women between the ages of 18 and 48, while the community cases have occurred in residents of Columbus and Franklin County between the ages of 4 and 50,” the department said in a statement.
The first OSU cases were reported on February 11, Rodriguez said Monday.
The department is working with other universities to make sure they are ready to vaccinate members of the university community and promote infection control measures. The most important of those are: wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home if you’re sick, he said.
Mumps is “a highly infectious disease” that spreads the same way as a cold or flu does – through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.
Five days of isolation is required, “and that can be complicated in a university setting,” he said.
Even more frightening – one-third of cases have no symptoms, he said. The 63 cases are those who became ill; others may be spreading the disease unknowingly.
OSU students went on spring break “right as this was exploding,” Rodriguez said, and local health officials contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to warn other departments to be on the lookout.
“The numbers doubled when the kids came back,” he said.
Cases of mumps were also reported at Fordham University in New York last month.
Some 97% of those in the Ohio outbreak have been vaccinated, he said. The vaccine is 80% to 90% effective, meaning 10% to 20% of people who have been vaccinated might become ill anyway.
Mumps typically begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite, which is followed by the swelling of salivary glands, according to the CDC.
There is no specific treatment for mumps, and patients usually recover after a week or two, but occasionally the disease can cause serious complications such as encephalitis, meningitis, deafness or inflammation of the breasts or ovaries in girls who have reached puberty, the CDC said.
Children should receive their first vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella at 12 to 15 months, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years, according to the CDC.
Columbus Public Health is urging those at high risk – including those who have not been vaccinated or those who only received one dose – to get vaccinated.