Two University of Richmond students have been isolated with symptoms of the mumps, Dr. Lynne P. Deane of the Student Health Center said. Although the two cases are being treated for the mumps, neither has been confirmed as having the virus.
The mumps is a highly contagious disease that is spread through saliva typically from talking, sneezing or coughing, according to the Center for Disease Control’s website. The mumps, much like the flu, can also be transmitted through touching a common surface like a door handle or computer keyboard.
Symptoms of the mumps range from a simple fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite to swollen and or tender salivary glands, according to the Center for Disease Control. Symptoms are not typically visible on a patient until at least 16-28 days after infection but may be visible as early as 12-25 days after, according to the CDC.
Starting January 2013, there were about 100 identified cases of mumps symptoms on campus, Sarah Fisher, registered nurse at the University of Richmond health center, said. During the outbreak in 2013, the health center isolated students with mumps symptoms for five days and brought in an expert from the Henrico Health Department.
“When we had the mumps outbreak before, we always work closely with the Henrico Health Department,” Fisher said. “And so last time, after it was not slowing down on campus, we had a vaccination clinic, and they actually gave people a third MMR vaccine and so, that did seem to help.”
University of Richmond requires all incoming students to have the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine before coming to campus, Fisher said. The health center requires two MMR vaccines, one given after students’ first birthday and one at least 28 days later, Fisher said.
The recent mumps cases found on Richmond's campus coincide with the mumps outbreak at University of Virginia, where there four suspected cases and one reported case of the mumps, according to an email from Christopher P. Holstege, executive director of the Department of Student Health at University of Virginia. In the email, UVa. students were told to take precaution in addition to taking measures to prevent contagious diseases from spreading.
With the mumps outbreak, Richmond has also seen numerous cases of the flu this year. Out of the 76 people who have come to the health center with flu-like symptoms since December, 17 of those have resulted in positive tests for the flu, Fisher said.
“Seventeen positive tests, and what we’ve been seeing here is Influenza A,” Fisher said. “And usually there’s are a couple of strains that circulate and a couple strains they try to cover for in the vaccine, but they have to predict a year out. And so that’s what happened this year. Their prediction did not go so well. Particularly for this A-stream, flu vaccine is not helping this much.”
The flu shot this year has been largely ineffective in regard to the outbreak of Influenza A, Fisher said. “Laboratory analysis of circulating flu viruses this season indicates that most of the H3N2 viruses are antigenically or genetically different than the H3N2 vaccine virus,” according to the CDC. “This means it’s possible this season’s vaccine may not work as well against those viruses…”
Experts are forced to decide which strain of the virus to include on the vaccine months before flu season begins, according to the CDC’s website. The flu strains often change from one season to another, therefore contributing to the disparity between the virus in the shot and the actual virus being spread. “Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating viruses and the viruses in the vaccine,” according to the website.
Junior Mariah Genis' flu test came back negative, but she was told by a doctor at the health center that she did in fact have the flu despite her result. Genis, who did receive a flu shot on campus, suffered fatigue, headaches, congestion, nausea and a sore throat, all symptoms of the flu. “They explained to me that there was a difference in the strain that the vaccine was for and the strain that was going around, which made the vaccine less effective,” Genis said.
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The health center held a flu shot clinic for three days back in October, and more than 400 vaccines were administered. The shots, which were administered by campus nurses in the commons, cost $25 and there are still about 50 available vaccines left in the health center.
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