A Loyola student has been diagnosed with a probable case of mumps, according to health officials at Loyola’s Wellness Center.
A “probable” case, according to the School of Public Health at Boston University, is one that demonstrates the clinical symptoms — in this case, swollen salivary glands by the jaw — but hasn’t been confirmed by final laboratory results from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).
“While [(CDPH) conducts] further investigation … we want to be sure that people are informed,” Wellness Center Director Diane Asaro told The PHOENIX. “With public health issues like this, [CDPH] will call it a probable case while they take the actions they need to.”
The student, who lived on Lake Shore Campus, has returned home, she said. Students, faculty and staff who may have come in contact with the student during the contagious period, which lasts five days, are being notified directly of the case by CDPH, Asaro stated in an email addressed to the Loyola community Feb. 3.
The email stated that as of now, this is a single case and should not be cause for alarm.
Mumps is a disease caused by a virus, according to Wellness Center Associate Director Joan Holden. It can be passed between people through coughing, sneezing or sharing items such as utensils, she said. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and fever, after which the face, by the jawlines, begins to swell.
Mumps, which has symptoms similar to other common illnesses, stands out because of the unique “swelling of the glands along the jawline,” Asaro said.
“Often times people haven’t seen mumps,” she added. “It’s very visual. What is underneath your jaw bone really gets swelled up.”
Diagnosis of mumps are no longer common in the United States now that a vaccine can be given, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, there were 1,057 reported cases of mumps, according to the (CDC). That’s slightly less than 200 fewer reported cases than in 2014, but almost double the 584 reported cases in 2013.
Any number of reasons could have contributed to the dramatic increase in reported cases between 2013 and 2015, namely an increase in individuals who didn’t receive the vaccination and the reality that the vaccine isn’t fool proof.
“Mumps is very contagious,” said Holden, an adult nurse practitioner. “The majority of our students are vaccinated, [but] even people who are vaccinated can get mumps. [The vaccine] doesn’t guarantee immunity.”
Loyola’s probable case of mumps follows several outbreaks at universities across Illinois last fall semester, including at Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. In both cases, the universities urged student to re-vaccinate.
Although this is the only reported case at Loyola, the Wellness Center plans to continue working with CDPH, Asaro said.
According to the CDC, most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks.
For more information on mumps, visit the Wellness Center page.