The University of Missouri Student Health Center on Wednesday announced that mumps has continued to spread on the Columbia campus, and school officials want student organizations to halt social events.
The health center reported that as many as 128 cases of mumps had been identified — both confirmed and probable — since the first four cases were announced Nov. 2.
In an attempt to slow the spread of the disease, the university has already canceled a popular start-of-finals, late-night breakfast that usually attracts 1,500 to 2,000 students.
Mumps is a “very contagious viral infection of the salivary glands,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The annual number of cases of the disease has dropped tremendously in this country since a vaccination program started in 1967. Before that, there were about 186,000 cases a year.
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As of Nov. 5, there were 2,879 cases of mumps in the United States this year, twice what it was for all of last year.
The MU campuswide announcement links the majority of its cases to students in Greek organizations.
The university has asked student groups to cancel any nonmandatory social events and to consider not holding even speaker events that might bring large groups of students together, said Christian Basi, university spokesman.
University health officials said the viral infection has spread despite proof that all the infected students had met the immunization policy requirement of two measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccines. A two-dose mumps vaccine is 88 percent effective against the virus.
The health center is working with local and state public health officials to identify other possible cases and to prevent or minimize additional cases.
University health officials have shared tips for identifying symptoms of the virus, which include swollen glands in front of and below the ear or under the jaw, pain with opening and closing the jaw, fever, fatigue and headache. And among men, mumps can lead to painful swelling of the testicles, and for women it can cause swelling of the breasts and ovaries and abdominal pain.
Basi said students who contract the virus are given written medical notices and asked to stay home from classes for a few days.
“This is not unique to the University of Missouri; campuses across the country are battling with this virus,” Basi said.