1) MUMPS IS BACK AND NOT JUST ON COLLEGE CAMPUSESSo I had blood drawn the other day for a titer, awaiting the results to see if I have current antibodies. As an academic, one gets exposed to all sorts of plagues, especially at the beginning of the semester and after Spring Break, communicable diseases being what they are. And I spent last summer being sick, so no thanks -- you can keep your mumps.
To quote a UW flyer. "Mumps is a contagious viral illness that spreads by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks."
In Wisconsin we have already had 15 cases of mumps, the first recognized on UW Madison's campus. However, there have been isolated ones on other campuses and in Milwaukee. The confounding thing about the UW Madison cases is that all of the students had been properly vaccinated with a series of 2 shots. Mumps is one of the M's in the MMR shot. If it were just Madison, and just college students, mumps would be less of a concern. However in Columbus, Ohio there have been over 254 cases and although at least 150 were associated with Ohio State there were also random grade school students and average residents of Columbus. There have also been about 60 cases in Il, and earlier in the year over a hundred at a private college, Fordham University in NYC. All of those students had had 2 vaccines as well.
Mumps is not as serious a disease as roseola/red measles or chickenpox in adults but still can cause an uncomfortable illness, swollen, painful testicles in men and rare brain infections,rare sterility,and very rare death. Infections like Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Chickenpox, and Meningitis have always been more common in places were people live in close surroundings and often share drinks, food, etc.
Mumps, unlike the Noro virus infection that spread around WisCon several years ago, is contagious but has such a long incubation period, up to 25 days, that it is hard to know where someone was exposed to it. You are also contagious for at least five days before any symptoms and some people only feel like they have the "flu" and never develop the classic swollen salivary glands of the cheeks (parotids) or on the underside of the jaw.
The first advice is if you are sick, believe you have been exposed to mumps less than 25 days ago, were born after 1957 and have never been immunized STAY HOME. SORRY.
Secondly if you were born after 1957 and have not been immunized or had only one, either get a blood titer done for immunity or (probably easier to arrange) call your health care provider or county health dept and try to get a second shot at least 2 weeks before Wiscon. I am not sure what to tell those of us who were born before 1957 when almost everyone was exposed to the actual infection. If you are immune suppressed I would ask your own healthcare provider or stay home if you are not a candidate for re-immunization.
So far 3rd shots to boost immunity are only being recommended in places with outbreaks and by May 24th Madison should not be one of those. But faculty and staff at Ohio State and UW have gotten ill so this is not a guarantee. Why did anyone who was properly vaccinated get sick? One shot is 80% effective and a series of 2 at least 30 days apart is 90% but we don't know how long the immunity lasts. Apparently not for over 20 years in some people.
To be on our guard we need to take some of the same precautions we did for Noro virus. Wash your hands as often as possible and especially after sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose and using the bathroom although the last is just normal advice. Also wash before eating if possible and do not share food or drinks, including canned soda with other people. We are a sharing group but if we don't want to share infections we need to eat off our own plates and drink from our own glasses or split our cookies, etc into pieces before sharing it.
--Susan Kinast-Porter (Susie)
This is not the con crud to mess with.
Just because you had a vaccination years or decades ago, doesn't mean you're not at risk. Viruses mutate. And vaccine protection doesn't last forever in some cases. Of course this may bring out the conspiracy types -- MMR is one of the Big Scares the anti-vaxer crowd lost their marbles and any understanding of science over, plus this must obviously be the fault of Obamacare... No, just no. If I have to explain these...
Anyway. If you're coming to WisCon in a couple of weeks or other possible group, you might want to get a blood titer. Just sayin'.