Mumps Diagnosis at UVa Concerns Health Officials

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

September 25, 2006

UVa officials are in a hurry to get students evacuated against the mumps. The case of the first year engineering student who was diagnosed with the mumps has health officials taking every precaution to see that this does not turn into a mumps outbreak. One of the things they are doing is handing out mumps "cheat sheets" for students with everything from what symptoms to look for, to what some of the health risks associated with the vaccination are, all hoping to keep the one case reported just that.

"I've never had the mumps, I've never known anybody who had the mumps," Uva graduate student Priya Curtis said. Not a surprising find since typically fewer than 1,000 cases of the mumps are reported each year.

After one diagnosis surfaced on UVa grounds Sunday, health officials scrambled to set up for mass immunizations.

"We've had about 60 students come in for [shots] and we've cleared about 80 or 90 health forms," Director of Student Health Dr. James Turner said.

Over 140 students flooded the health center in just five hours Monday. If not, they face being removed from grounds altogether.

"I did get an email saying that I wasn't fully vaccinated and that if I didn't get the second dose then I wouldn't be allowed to come back on grounds after Tuesday night, so definitely needed to take care of that," Curtis continued.

The recent outbreak in colleges throughout the Midwest was the driving factor behind making sure all students are properly immunized, quite a feat when it's a student body the size of UVa's.

"We've made some progress but we still have over 1,000 students who don't have documentation," Dr. Turner said.

The viral illness is spread through close contact and is highly contagious, leaving school officials no choice but to scrutinize each student's vaccination claim.

"They were a bit pedantic about what they needed to see written down, and as it was written down they weren't going to accept," third year student Philip Browne said.

More cases are expected to arise in the coming days. "Potentially up to 1,000 people could be susceptible and come down even when they're vaccinated," Dr. Turner warned.

For those students with medical and religious exemptions from the shot, even they may face removal from grounds if the Commonwealth's Attorney finds that the university has the authority to do so, but that is an issue they are still looking into.

In the most severe cases, Mumps can lead to Meningitis, but the case of the student that died earlier this month from Meningitis was not related to this illness.


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