Story by Katie Ericson
We all know that this time of year, a lot of people are getting sick. The weather is changing, finals are coming up, and after spring break it can be hard on immune systems to get back to the normal hectic schedule. Normally this just results in a cold or cough, nothing too serious. But The Ohio State University has had a more serious problem.
Just before spring break, health officials started noticing that mumps was beginning to spread across campus. After the break, the numbers had doubled. The infection had also spread to the nearby community.
Mumps is more serious than a cold or cough, but spreads in the same way — through infected particles in the air.
It is highly contagious, and usually those who contract it have to be kept in complete isolation for five days.
Here is the scary part. Half of the people who contract mumps have no symptoms, so they could be spreading the disease to others without even knowing it.
“Mumps can get really ugly,” said senior Judy Lee. “Before you know what’s even happening, everyone has it.”
Unfortunately there are not too many options for preventing the mumps.
Most people are vaccinated as babies and then have an extra shot for precautions as children. So the majority of college students should be vaccinated and protected from the disease.
But Ohio State officials say that judging by their numbers, 10-20 percent of students who had received the vaccine contracted mumps anyway.
Nonetheless, the first step in preventing mumps is to check with your parents or doctor and make sure you have gotten your MMR vaccine.
This is a ‘three-in-one’ shot that protects against measles (causes sore muscles, rash, fever and cough), mumps (results in fever, headache and facial, breast or testicle pain), and rubella (fever, muscle pain and headache).
These diseases are more serious in childhood but are infectious and can still affect adults. If you have not received your MMR shot, schedule an appointment with your doctor to be updated on your vaccines.
“It’s important to come in for a physical if you think you have the mumps,” said Health Care Center nurse practioner Wendy Street. “We may not want to see you when no one else is here so they can’t catch it, but you should still call to schedule an appointment.”
Also follow typical hygiene protocol. Wash your hands, cover your cough, do not share food with people and get sleep.
If you start to feel feverish or have swollen and tender salivary glands (found under the ears) go to the health center and have them check. You will not receive any medication, but you need to know if you have the mumps.
The disease passes quickly and you could infect a lot of people if you ignore these signs.
“Nobody wants to be sick right now,” said senior John Emmons. “You don’t want that, R.A.s don’t want that. It’s really just unnecessary.”