By Ellin Youse and Caleb Dorfman
Editor-in-Chief and Transcript Correspondent
Ohio Wesleyan University’s campus has not experienced an outbreak of mumps in at least 45 years, but that isn’t stopping OWU’s Student Health Services from taking precautions.
According to Jose Rodriguez, director of public affairs and communications at the Columbus Public Health Department, there were 116 cases of mumps reported in Franklin County as of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., with 93 being connected to The Ohio State University.
On March 28, the Delaware General Health Department reported, “Several cases of mumps in [Delaware] county.”
Marsha Tilden, director of student health services at OWU, said none of the cases are at OWU.
Tilden said she could count on two hands the number of students on campus who have not received the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccines.
According to Tilden, because OSU is a public university, their students are not required to receive the MMR vaccines like they are at OWU. However, Communications and Media Relations Manager at the Ohio State University, Dave Isaacs, said the university has come to the conclusion that the outbreak is not the fault of a lack of vaccinations.
“We see no evidence of that, we are seeing evidence that our students are highly vaccinated,” Isaacs said.
“Most states require students attending college to receive at least one does of the vaccine before they enter school. That said, we are encouraging any student who has not had the vaccine to come to the health center and get that taken care of.”
Isaacs said the student health center at OSU is making mump vaccinations a top concern in scheduling appointments.
“Our health center right now is fully staffed, and we are absolutely prioritizing students requesting for vaccinations for the mumps,” he said.
Isaacs agreed with Tilden in the most crucial preventive measure people can take towards contracting mumps is staying educated on staying healthy in general.
“The most important thing anyone can do to stay healthy is to learn the steps they can take in order to protect themselves and others,” he said.
“The mumps spread through liquid droplets, like the cold and flu viruses, so the tips to stay healthy are relatively the same. Wash your hands as much as possible and be up to date on your vaccinations.”
Tildensaid a case of the mumps has a typical incubation period of 15 days, but the disease can be present in someone’s body for up to 25 days without showing any signs or symptoms.
According to Tilden, the proximity in which a virus can spread is a factor in why OWU students should be concerned about the outbreak. Given the small size of OWU’s campus, the threat of mumps is not to be taken lightly.
“I think the main concern for any virus that is highly contagious, is the close quarters in which students live,” Tilden said.
“So any university that has students who live, eat and attend class together are at risk. Students should protect themselves by avoiding close contact with those that are ill, cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, wash hands frequently and don’t share cups, eating utensils etc.”
Tilden said vaccines are available for those who have not been vaccinated or have only recieved one dose of the vaccination at the Delaware General Health Department, which is located at 1 West Winter Street, and at the OWU Student Health Center.