Four cases of mumps have been confirmed this morning at SUNY Cortland, up from one confirmation earlier this week, according to Dr. Charles Lambiotte, the college’s medical director.
Another three cases are suspected to be mumps — all are students at the college. One more has tested negative. A faculty member has been asked to report to work after showing mumps-like symptoms.
The college has also suspended participation by education majors in field placements in schools, child-care centers, after-school programs and other activities involving children.
A news release from the Cortland County Health Department Wednesday first revealed that there had been one confirmed case and several more suspected.
“It is important to remember that mumps is a vaccine-preventable disease and because of high vaccination rates, mumps is no longer very common in the United States,” Cortland County Public Health Director Catherine Feuerherm said in the release. “While sporadic cases can still occur among vaccinated individuals and outbreaks have occurred on college campuses across New York State and the U.S., the best way to protect against mumps is to get the measles-mumps-rubella shot.”
The students have been put in isolation in residence halls or apartments, Lambiotte said.
They are not critically ill, however, and have been advised to use ibuprofen and other pain relievers along with ice packs to reduce swelling.
The students are no longer considered contagious, college spokesman Fred Pierce said in a release.
Lambiotte suspected that the confirmed cases, the first in his 25 years at the university, are from a mixture of both domestic and international students who haven’t been immunized, helping to introduce the disease. All of the students who were confirmed to have mumps or may potentially have it were vaccinated against the disease, he said.
The State University of New York, like all post-secondary educational institutions in New York, has required students since August 1990 to have proof of immunization against a number of ailments, including mumps. However, exemptions are available for health risk or religious belief.
Only about 20 students on campus have exemptions against immunization, Lambiotte said.
“In general, our campus is highly immunized” because the state requires it, he said.
More so, outbreaks can occur as people’s immunization can wear off after initial vaccinations.
“Some people’s immunity gets to the point where they become susceptible,” he said.
And the vaccines aren’t foolproof. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that a single dose of the MMR vaccine is 78% effective against mumps. Two doses are 88% effective.
Children are recommended to get their first dose of vaccinations between 12 and 15 months old and their second dose between 4 and 6 years old, the CDC says. Teens and adults should also get booster shots.
The first cases of mumps were suspected on Feb.18 when nurses treated two patients who showed swollen glands under their ears, Lambiotte said. He contacted the patients the following day to discuss if they had symptoms.
Both said they had swollen glands and one had been admitted to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.
Lambiotte notified Cayuga Medical Center Convenient Care at Cortland and the Guthrie Cortland Medical Center’s emergency room, and they informed him other students had already shown similar symptoms.
The university has notified the county’s health department of the situation and is working on immunization plans. Students have also been notified by email about how to identify the symptoms and what to do if they have them.
Vaccines have been offered to the unimmunized students, Lambiotte said. The students can decline, but the school may ask them to leave — although no decision has yet been made.