Health officials call recent mumps cases at SU an outbreak

Health officials calling recent mumps cases an outbreak

The Onondaga County Health Department is calling a recent rash of mumps cases at Syracuse University an outbreak.

During a news conference Wednesday morning, health officials confirmed 13 Syracuse University students have been diagnosed with mumps since September 21 and said there are five additional "probable" cases. Each of the confirmed cases occurred in students who had received the vaccination, officials said.

The majority of cases affect members of the university's lacrosse team, which has been shut down for the semester. Students diagnosed have been isolated and the university has made arrangements to educate them.

All new students are asked to get the vaccination. Although health officials conceded that the vaccination isn't 100 percent effective, they said it is still the best way to prevent mumps.

"Those who are vaccinated will have a very small percentage, will have milder cases," Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said. "Those who are not vaccinated will suffer, unfortunately, negative consequences. Serious consequences."

Health professionals say the defining symptom for the infection is a swollen gland by the jaw. The illness is passed through the air; those infected might spread it with a sneeze or a cough.

Here is what the CDC's website says about the effectiveness of the vaccine:

A few people who get two doses of MMR vaccine may still get measles, mumps, or rubella if they are exposed to the viruses that cause these diseases. Experts aren’t sure why; it could be that their immune systems didn’t respond as well as they should have to the vaccine.

About 3 out of 100 people who get two doses of MMR vaccine will get measles if exposed to the virus. However, they are more likely to have a milder illness, and are also less likely to spread the disease to other people.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are 88% (range 66% to 95%) effective at preventing mumps. Mumps outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, particularly in close-contact settings such as schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread.

While there are not many studies available, most people who do not respond to the rubella component of the first MMR dose would be expected to respond to the second dose.

There is no treatment for the infection; doctors can only treat the symptoms.