Mumps outbreak hits close to home

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

An outbreak of the viral disease Mumps has come to the Champaign-Urbana community.

Many are wondering how this outbreak started and what’s being done to combat it. Awais Vaid, an Epidemiologist for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, shed some light on those questions.

“This number changes daily, but as of this morning [Aug. 20] there are 91 reported cases,” Vaid explained. “It started at the U of I Champaign-Urbana campus. Most likely from a student that had contact with someone with Mumps in a different community such as Chicago or out of state.”

Mumps specifically targets the parotid salivary glands located in the front of the jaw. They become enlarged and the cheeks can become puffy and swollen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says some common symptoms are, “fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and the swollen or tender salivary glands.”

The CDC website states that Mumps is spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing, or talking. Sharing objects and touching the same surface as an infected person, with unwashed hands are other ways. Good hygiene is very important to stay healthy, not just from Mumps alone.

The CDC website also stated symptoms generally appear 16 to 18 days after infection but some that come in contact with the disease will develop mild or no symptoms, and remain unaware they are even contagious.

Vaid said the best way to combat the spread of this disease is prevention and control. The Public Health District is strongly recommending obtaining a booster vaccine, and to isolate all sick patients during the infectious period. He said education and awareness is key.

This disease doesn’t only affect the very young and elderly like some viral disease do. The most affected age group is those of 16 to 30 years old. Most of the Parkland student body falls into this category and should remain diligent in learning about the disease.

For those at Parkland that would like more information on the Mumps viral disease, visiting June Burch is a good resource. Burch is the Wellness Educator at Parkland. She works in conjunction with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District throughout the year and is happy to answer any questions students or staff may have.

“Mumps is a disease that noticeably affects the salivary glands in the throat,” Burch stated. “It can become more invasive and affect more organs in your body but typically it’s just the salivary glands in your throat.”

Photo by Zach Trueblood | The Prospectus  Due to an outbreak of the viral disease Mumps in Champaign-Urbana, some residents have decided to take preventative measures by updating their immunizations.

Photo by Zach Trueblood | The Prospectus
Due to an outbreak of the viral disease Mumps in Champaign-Urbana, some residents have decided to take preventative measures by updating their immunizations.

There are several places in the area that are offering the Mumps booster vaccine but Burch said. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District office on Kenyon Road is offering them at no cost and will be providing them until the outbreak has been quelled. There should be enough for all those interested in receiving one.

“People who have been immunized and have confirmation that they’ve been immunized, also still seem to be getting the Mumps now in this outbreak but the symptoms are very mild,” Burch said. “People who have actually had the disease do not seem to be getting it. And people who have not been immunized are of course getting it and becoming sicker than others.”

Burch stressed the importance of being immunized or obtaining the booster. She felt that is the most important educational aspect for community members, students and staff included.

“The message we want to put out is: do you know for sure that you were immunized? It’s typically done as an MMR immunization that spans Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. It’s a two-step shot starting when you turn one and then once you enter the Illinois public school system,” Burch explained. “People do have objections so they choose not to immunize their children. If you know that you were not immunized, it’s very important that you do so.”

Burch also warned that the chances of it coming to a Parkland classroom are possible. Once classes start there will be students who are concurrently enrolled at the University of Illinois as well. The U of I campus is not that far from ours and the likelihood of its spread to Parkland is possible.

She also pointed out if you are in a class with someone that has Mumps, you are technically exposed. You will have to prove you’ve had the immunization or go out and get one.

Activities Manager Chaya Sandler received the MMR booster vaccine recently. She provided some insight into why she chose to do so.

“Personally, I wanted to get the MMR booster because there are people who have been immunized and are still getting ill. Working closely with college students I wanted to make sure I’m protected. I really saw no reason not to get it since there’s no cost,” Sandler stated.

She explained finding the Public Health District office was fairly simple. The check in process was pretty simple and she was in and out in about 45 minutes.

For those interested in getting the MMR booster they should visit the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District office on 201 W. Kenyon Road Champaign, IL. For immediate information at Parkland, visit June Burch in the Office of Student Life.