The outbreak of mumps at Ohio State University continues to worsen. There are now 37 confirmed cases among students, staff and others associated with the school. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Jose’ Rodriguez with the Columbus Health Department says people should take precautions to prevent the spread of mumps.
RODRIGUEZ: "It is a viral infection that can affect people of any ages. Normally most of us would be vaccinated..for it according to Ohio state laws, we would be vaccinated for it when we are children and then we are also given a booster. So most of us should have two doses of what's called MMR vaccine. And that should give us 80 to 90 percent protection from contracting this infection."
INGLES: "Well then why are we seeing so many cases in this outbreak at Ohio State," Ingles asked, "Are these students not vaccinated?"
RODRIGUEZ: "Actually the majority of the students, and this actually goes beyond students because the cases involve more than Ohio State students. It also includes a couple of members of their staff. It includes family members as well as some people that work in the community that have links to OSU. So why are we seeing these cases? The likely -- the vaccine is 80 to 90 percent effective, so even though it's very effective, there is still some vulnerability that most may have of 10 to 20 percent chance of contracting the disease."
INGLES: "So most of these people have been vaccinated against the disease, but they are just picking it up because it’s not 100 percent certainty?"
RODRIGUEZ: "Correct. So based on the numbers we’ve seen so far, the majority of the cases have been vaccinated. I believe everything but one case has shown us some kind of evidence of the fact that they were vaccinated. That doesn’t mean that the person that may have brought the infection was vaccinated. As you know, there's been an anti-vaccine movement and some people choose not to be vaccinated. When that happens, everybody else is at risk, because even those of us who have been vaccinated have a 10 to 20 percent chance that we may become ill. That’s why we in public health often talk about the herd immunity factor that the majority of us that are protected, the better or the healthier the community will be. That’s why we have vaccine requirements in place."
INGLES: "So what are you telling people to try to avoid getting mumps?"
RODRIGUEZ: "Well first of all, if you are having symptoms of the mumps, you should consult your medical provider. You should do that immediately. Because if you do have the mumps, you should be isolated. That means you are going to stay away from loved ones, friends, fellow students, so that you don’t infect them. So you want to do that. Second of all, if you are not up to date on your MMR shots, you should be up to date. You really should speak to your medical provider to make sure you are up to date on all of your adult vaccines. And third, you need to practice infection control. What I mean by infection control is if you are going to cough or sneeze, you cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve so that the droplets are not spread in the air. You also want to wash your hands so that you don’t cough or sneeze into your hands and touch surfaces and...if you are sick, you need to stay away from others and stay home."