Campuses face mumps challenge

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Outbreaks of mumps plague several college and university campuses including some in Central Illinois.

Health officials at Eastern Illinois University report the school has seen a mumps outbreak this month that left at least ten students infected. State health officials report that, in 2015 and 2016, 301 students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign had mumps as part of an outbreak local health workers said began last April. Illinois Department of Public Health also reports 27 cases of mumps at Illinois State University and 13 cases at Eastern Illinois University during the same period.

“Mumps is a communicable disease,” explained Awais Vaid of the Champaign Urbana Public Health District. “It’s a viral infection. It spreads when somebody coughs or sneezes or touches a surface … The classical symptoms are the swelling of the carotid gland.”

Vaid said public health workers at departments like his are responsible for tracking cases of mumps and helping prevent its spread. He said college campuses can be particularly challenging.

“In dorms, in classes where they are spending a lot of time together, there is sustained contact among themselves for a long period of time,” Vaid said. “That’s why it spreads so easily, it spreads fast, and it’s very difficult for that community to get rid of mumps in a short period of time.”

For more information on mumps, click here.

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