NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Health concerns were growing at Fordham University Thursday after a total of 13 students are believed to have come down with the mumps.
As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, the number of cases was rising by the minute Thursday.
The university said it was notified of one case of suspected mumps reported at its Lincoln Center campus and four new cases at its Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, bringing the total number of cases to 13 university-wide.
Fordham said all students with suspected mumps have returned home, or else been isolated during the infectious phase of the illness. Still, since mumps patients are typically contagious for two days before symptoms arise, others could be infected and not know it.
The highly contagious virus spreads easily from person to person and can be transmitted even two days before an outbreak, so fellow students may not even know if they’ve been exposed, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
University health officials sent out an email alert warning students of the campus outbreak.
“It was kind of shock. I didn’t really know what they were, we’ve all been vaccinated against it,” said Freshman Amy DesMarais.
“I’ve been disinfecting like crazy, so hopefully I will not get mumps,” added Fordham senior Eddie Kehan.
Kehan told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones the alert caught him by surprise.
“Seems to be pretty wild going on here now, but hopefully it doesn’t spread too bad and we all get better,” he said.
The university issued the following statement Thursday: “Fordham University has had what appears to be an outbreak of mumps at the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. Fordham does not yet have laboratory confirmation that the illness is mumps, but that is the most likely diagnosis.”
“Mumps in college-age men and women usually runs its course without any lasting effects. Nonetheless, the University is trying to see what connection there might be among the affected students while stepping up the frequency and intensity of cleanings in communal bathrooms. The student health staff has been in touch with the Department of Health, and we are following best practices in treatment (mostly palliative) and containment.”
Freshman Molly Muscari told Jones the school is urging students to use hand sanitizer, clean their bathrooms and not to share.
“In a college environment you’re sharing everything, you know. You really are, I mean, I know we share drinks and stuff so you can definitely get it like that,” she said.
Every student at Fordham has to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated for mumps — specifically the mumps, measles and rubella virus — before attending, Brown reported.
This raises concerns and questions: If everyone here has been vaccinated, why the outbreak? The answer is that the vaccination does not offer 100 percent protection.
“The virus has evolved and I think people understand that concept,” said junior Delia Grizzard. “So if your vaccination does not prevent you from this specific strain of it then you just have to take extra precautions to be more aware — I think.”
University officials believe the virus is contained but they’re warning students who experience symptoms to see their doctor immediately.
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or ears;
Pain while chewing or swallowing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms usually occur 16-18 days after infection.
There is no cure for the mumps, and while complications are serious, they are rare.
Fordham said 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.
Doctors say most people fully recover.
Fordham said it is trying to figure out what connection there might be among the affected students.
“I’m not too concerned. I feel like they have it under control,” said freshman Blake Christy. “It seems like they have everything together.”
Fordham was waiting for lab confirmation of the mumps cases Thursday. Meanwhile, students said they are noticing more hand sanitizer on campus. Fordham said it is also stepping up the frequency and intensity of cleanings in its communal restrooms.
So far, there has been no word of mumps outbreaks at other schools.
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