Nearly three months after the first case of the mumps was reported on Ohio State’s campus, the university has established an official initiative to help tame the spreading disease.
OSU’s Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccination Initiative was launched Monday in hopes of increasing the number of students, staff and faculty who will be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, according to a Monday email to the OSU community from Interim President Joseph Alutto.
In addition, a list of recommendations made by a group of experts from OSU, Columbus Public Health, Ohio Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was provided in the email regarding the recent outbreak of mumps in Central Ohio.
As of Monday, there had been 253 cases of the mumps reported in Franklin and Delaware counties, 153 of which can be traced to the OSU outbreak, according to a release from Columbus Public Health.
According to the release, the Central Ohio outbreak has more than half as many mumps cases as were reported nationwide last year. The cases also involve complications including inflammation of the testicles or ovaries, deafness and hospitalizations.
The onset of the first case connected to the Franklin County outbreak was Jan. 7, while the first case connected to OSU was Feb. 10.
Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It can spread through coughing, sneezing or contact with saliva or mucus. According to the CDC website, the disease can be carried without any symptoms.
Those who are affected by mumps might have swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on the side of the face, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and inflammation of the testicles in men, according to the CDC. The website also says there is no specific treatment for mumps, but it is usually gone in a week or two.
According to the email, the recommendations about the outbreak include:
Individuals with two doses of the MMR vaccine not currently needing a third dose.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine being recommended for anyone who works in a health care facility, college students and anyone who plans to travel internationally.
One dose being recommended for anyone who works on or is frequently on OSU’s campus.
Those trying to get vaccines at all university sites will be screened by a health care professional to “ensure eligibility prior to receiving the vaccine,” the email said.
Because the MMR vaccine is a live vaccine, not all individuals should receive it, like people who have had allergic reactions to certain antibiotics.
The MMR vaccine is available for OSU students at the Wilce Student Health Center, located at 1875 Millikin Road.
OSU faculty and staff can get the vaccine at the OSU Wexner Medical Center’s University Health Services in McCampbell Hall, Suite 221, located at 1581 Dodd Drive.
Sydney Palmer, a second-year in animal science, said she plans to get a MMR vaccine because she plans on studying internationally in May.
Although she said she understands the concern, Palmer said she’s not worried about getting the mumps at OSU because so few OSU-related cases have been reported when compared to the campus’ 57,466-student enrollment.
“I don’t think it’s going to spread that bad because I think people are taking the proper precautions to stay healthy,” Palmer said.
To keep herself healthy, Palmer said she takes her own precautions.
“I wash my hands and whenever I go to the gym I definitely wipe down the mats before and after I’m done using them because I know they trap a lot of bacteria,” she said.
Other students like Kathryn Hess, a third-year in respiratory therapy, said she already got the MMR vaccine because it’s required by her major.
Hess said she commends the university’s handling of the outbreak.
“I think that Ohio State has had the right attitude about everything, making sure all students are informed about everything. I think it was the right thing to do, to keep us informed,” she said.