BU mumps case reported

Though only one official outbreak of mumps has been confirmed on campus, Baker University officials are still encouraging students to give special attention to their health.

Director of Student Health Services Ruth Sarna said the university is not in an epidemic stage, but that, as always, students should be conscientious about practices that help to keep them healthy.

“We’re encouraging everyone to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze and to wash their hands,” Sarna said.

Sarna said in the event of a confirmed or probable case of infection, the university health center will report the case to the county health department.

As of Thursday, 147 cases had been reported as confirmed or probable in the state, 84 of which have occurred in Douglas County.

According to the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department Web site, mumps is an acute viral disease caused by the mumps virus. Symptoms can include fever, swelling of the salivary glands and, in some men, swelling of the testicles. Other complications in some cases include meningitis and inflammation of the ovaries or pancreas. The site also stated that in some rare cases, the disease could lead to deafness.

According to health information provided by Sarna, about one-third of infected individuals do not exhibit symptoms and these can take between 16-18 days to appear after infection. Mumps is contagious seven days prior to through nine days after the onset of symptoms.

Dean of Students John Frazier said the university has a procedure in place to handle a reported infection.

“If we identify a student as having mumps, if possible, the student will be asked to go home,” Frazier said. “If that’s not possible, we infirm them in their room.”

Frazier said necessities would be brought to the student until the symptoms were gone. He said there are rooms on campus such as the Presidential Suite in Jolliffe Hall which can be used in the event that an infected student needed to stay on campus.

“We’ll do whatever we can to prevent campus spread,” Frazier said.

Sarna said students are required to have had the vaccine for mumps, but said the vaccine can weaken.

“In most cases, (the infected persons) have been vaccinated and the vaccines were waning,” Sarna said. “It’s a puzzle.”

Irwin Hall Director Jana Collins said resident assistants and community advisers would be able to assist a student who suspects infection.

“If the student comes to us with symptoms, we’ll write down the problems and direct them to talk with Ruth Sarna as soon as possible,” Collins said.

Sophomore Lesley Gillaspie, who shares a room with the student who was infected, said her roommate was complaining of cold-like symptoms.

“She was complaining a lot … she was really congested,” Gillaspie said.

Gillaspie said her roommate went home but has since returned to the university.

Frazier said the good thing about mumps is that it does not cause serious problems.

“The nice thing about it, not that there is a nice thing, is that it’s not life-threatening,” Frazier said. “It typically just seems to run its course.”

Sarna said students can do their part to decrease their chances of contracting the disease.

“Everyone should get plenty of rest, drink water and wash their hands,” Sarna said. “We just encourage everyone to take good care of themselves.