Mumps outbreak on U of I campus

Urbana -- Many people think the mumps is an outdated illness, but at the University of Illinois, the virus is alive and spreading.

"For our entire campus, we're thinking we're talking about 10 individuals since the return of spring break," said Dr. Robert Palinkas, director at the U of I's McKinley Health Center.

 Nine students and one employee all displayed the standard symptoms of mumps: pain, fever, and swelling around the jaw line. But despite efforts to isolate those infected, doctors on campus think more cases will come.

"I would expect that as the outbreak or the conditions continue, that we'll see another two, possibly three a week until the end of the school year," said Palinkas.

That sort of increase would cause the number of cases in the first half of 2014 to quadruple since 2013, when only four mumps infections were reported throughout Champaign County for the entire year. But doctors say this surge is part of a larger outbreak throughout the Midwest.

"[In] Ohio, one county I think has 600 cases," said Palinkas. "And it happens to be that that county happens to be the home of The Ohio State University, and they have on their campus, I think 150 or so mumps cases."

Palinkas does not think it will spread to that extent at the U of I.

He also says some of the first students infected have already returned to school, since the average recovery period has been about a week.

All individuals infected by the virus were vaccinated, but the vaccine is only effective about 80 to 90 percent of the time. However, doctors still say it is the best way to protect against the mumps.

Current Conditions