Fordham University in New York is witnessing an outbreak of mumps, a contagious disease characterized by painful swelling of the salivary glands.
As of Feb. 20, the university had 13 suspected cases of mumps in its Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan and Rose Hill campus in The Bronx.
"The New York City Health Department is working closely with Fordham University to investigate a confirmed mumps outbreak among students," the New York City Health Department said in a statement. "All students who might have mumps infections have either returned home or have been isolated from other residents during the time they might be contagious."
Most kids in the United States receive mumps-containing vaccine but vaccination does not give guarantee that the disease will be avoided. "Studies suggest that the mumps vaccine is 80% to 90% effective," the NYC Health Department said. "That means that for every 100 people vaccinated, 80 to 90 of them will be fully protected, but 10 to 20 are at risk for the disease."
Health experts also said that vaccination does not give 100 percent protection. Dana Saltzman, a disease specialist, said that virus-induced immunity against a disease can wane. "The immunity that's induced by the virus starts to wane. They believe that it holds until at least late teenage years, but then it starts to wane," Saltzman said. "There's no way to predict who's going to lose their immunity or not."
Still, mumps vaccination is crucial to lessen the risks of infection and outbreak. "Though mumps vaccination cannot protect everyone, it greatly lowers the number of people who get sick when exposed to the virus," the NYC Department of Health guidelines read. "If a community maintains a high vaccination rate, the risk of exposure declines too. And while vaccination cannot protect everyone from developing mumps, people who get mumps following vaccination are at lower risk of problems."
As precautionary measure, Fordham is requiring all students to have full vaccination including vaccination for the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) before they can attend the university. The immunization records of all students have also been reviewed and those who are unvaccinated will not be allowed to return to campus unless they get vaccinated.
Students who have contracted the disease were likewise advised to stay at home, cover their mouths and nose when coughing or sneezing, and wash their hands thoroughly.
"If you think you have mumps symptoms, call the Fordham University Health Center for instructions before visiting the Health Center at their campus," university students were advised. "Faculty and staff with mumps symptoms should contact their private health care providers."