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Mumps Outbreak at Ohio State University Spreads

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Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 5:40 PM

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There are now 37 confirmed cases in the mumps outbreak at Ohio State University, up from 23 on Monday.

Jose Rodriguez with the Columbus Public Health department says the majority of people affected are students, but a handful of staff, family and community members have also been sickened.

Three people were hospitalized but have been released.

Mumps used to be a common illness among kids and teens, but widespread vaccination programs have largely reduced outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In an interview with Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, Rodgruez says the source of the outbreak is still unknown and people should take precautions to prevent spreading the illness.


"Most of us should have two doses of the MMR vaccine," Rodriguez says. "And that should give us 80 to 90% protection from contracting this infection."

Rodriguez says most of the confirmed cases are among people who have been vaccinated, but he cautions:

"That doesn’t mean that the person who may have brought the infection was vaccinated. 

As you know, there has been an anti-vaccine movement and some people choose not to be vaccinated.  When that happens, everybody else is at risk because even those who have been vaccinated have a ten to twenty percent chance we could become ill. 

That’s why we in public health often talk about a herd immunity factor that the majority of us who are protected, the better the health of the community will be.  That’s why we have vaccine requirements in place."

The long term impact of the infection can be serious.  Rodriguez says it can make men sterile and damage a woman’s breasts and ovaries.

He urges people to do the same things they do to prevent spreading a cold--wash their hands frequently, cover their mouth during a sneeze, and stay away from others who are sick.  And he says anyone concerned about staving off the disease should talk to their doctor to make sure they've received all of their adult vaccines.

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