EDITOR IN CHIEF
This is a developing story. It was last updated at 2:30 p.m. on September 6, 2019.
A resident at the St. John Paul II Newman Center has been clinically diagnosed with a case of the mumps, according to a health memo sent by Dean of Students Cathy Pettid Friday morning.
More than 100 residents at the JPII Newman Center are UNO students, the email from Pettid continued. The memo said staff, residents and visitors of the facility are taking precautions with the guidance of the Douglas County Health Department to minimize the illness’ impact.
“The health and well-being of all of our residents, staff, and visitors is of the utmost importance to us,” JPII Newman Center director of advancement Susan Gnann said. “As a practice, we are keenly focused on the health of the whole person. In this specific scenario, we have used several communication channels to inform our residents, staff, and visitors about this news and have educated them on the recommendations of the health department.”
Gnann said specific precautions being taken at the Newman Center emphasize that students do not engage in a sign of peace and prepare for a varied system of communion distribution at Mass.
The Gateway has requested further comment from Pettid but has yet to receive a response.
Anne Mardis O’Keefe, senior epidemiologist with the DCHD said: “Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and tender, swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides, often referred to as parotitis.”
O’Keefe said other symptoms that may begin before parotitis include: fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but the incubation period can also range from 12-25 days after infection, O’Keefe said.
“Some people who get mumps have very mild symptoms like a cold, or no symptoms at all,” O’Keefe said. “In rare cases, mumps can cause more severe complications.”
O’Keefe said people typically recover fully from the infection within two weeks.
In her email memo, Pettid said: “It’s important to note that the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine series is a requirement for all admitted UNO students. This vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps.”
It is typically expected that children receive the MMR vaccine in a consistent schedule. The first dose is often given at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose at four through six years of age.
While O’Keefe said the MMR vaccine is safe and effective, people who previously had one or two doses of the MMR vaccine can get mumps during an outbreak.
“After the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, there has been a more than 99 percent decrease in mumps cases in the United States,” O’Keefe said. “However, mumps outbreaks still occur, particularly in settings where people have close, prolonged contact, such as universities and close-knit communities.”
Communities like this can include people who are strongly connected by social or cultural ties, participate in communal activities or share a common living space.
Still, O’Keefe encourages folks to be sure they’ve been vaccinated.
“Disease symptoms are milder and complications are less frequent in vaccinated people,” O’Keefe said. “Also, high vaccination coverage helps to limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks. So it’s still very important to be up to date on MMR vaccine.”
Pettid encouraged students to take advantage of on-campus health resources, located in the Health and Kinesiology Building in room 102.
Her email reads:
For general questions about immunization for mumps, please contact 402.559.0896. Appointments with Board Certified professionals may be made in person or by phone at 402.554.2374.
In the meantime, all students can practice preventative measures. Both Pettid and O’Keefe recommend that students:
-Ensure that you are up-to-date on immunizations (2 MMRs)
-Wash hands regularly with soap and water
-Don’t share cups or water bottles
-Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze
-Stay home if you are sick
Gnann said that if a student becomes symptomatic, they should go to the doctor as soon as possible and quarantine themselves for five days after symptoms manifest.
More information about mumps can be found here.