SU "Aggressively" Addressing Mumps Outbreak Through Education, Isolation

Oct 11, 2017

Onondaga County and Syracuse University health officials say they’re continuing to monitor the student population for mumps now that there are 13 confirmed cases of the virus.  There are five more “probable” cases and at least 10 others with possible symptoms.  Senior Vice President for enrollment and student experience at Syracuse University Dolan Evanovich has been reaching out to students and parents. 

Senior Vice President for enrollment and student experience at Syracuse University Dolan Evanovich talks about the ongoing campaign efforts of the university with hopes of stopping further spread of the disease on campus. In the background are Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta, center, and county medical director Quoc Nguyen.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"Over the last several weeks, we’ve launched a very aggressive educational campaign that included over 5,000 brochures and flyers that were shared throughout the campus and the residence halls; in the dining halls and the student center. We had automated phone calls that went to students and parents because the parents are an important audience. As recently as last night, we sent an email out to 20,000 parents.”

SU Medical Director Doctor Karen Nardella is asking students to be aware of the symptoms, which can include a low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.

“If they have any of those symptoms, they are asked to come to health services and seek care so that we can see if they do or don’t have it. Our efforts with education are working because we’re seeing a lot of students calling, coming in, because they are concerned.”

Dr. Karen Nardella, SU Medical Director, reassures the community that these efforts have been going well as far as making students aware of the disease and its presence on campus, as well as the necessary measures to protect themselves from catching the disease.
Credit WAER News

Nardella says the University has made the effort to isolate any student who might be suspected of having the virus.

“Some are staying in hotels, but they are isolated to their room so there’s no risk to the other people. Any time we have a student that we suspect could have mumps, we do a test – but the test does not come back for a few days, so we isolate them no matter what. We don’t wait for the test [results].”

Nardella says nearly all of those diagnosed with the mumps have previously been vaccinated.  In fact, the university has a 99.5% vaccination rate.  But County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta says a third vaccine, or “booster,"  likely wouldn’t prevent those who have already been vaccinated from getting the virus.

“We cannot recommend that at this point because we have to go by signs. We pretty much will have to follow where there’s a proof – is it effective?  That actually came after looking at a lot of information by different outbreaks and different communities. They actually concluded that there’s not enough evidence to support that third-vaccine notion at this point."

Gupta urges all students to avoid sharing drinks and utensils, and to follow common sense measures like hand washing and covering coughs.

SU Health Services is urging students not to hesitate contacting the Health Services team at (315) 443-9005 should they feel the need to or simply for more information. They are open Mondays and Tuesdays 8:30 am to 7 pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 am to 5 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. To learn more, their website can be found here.