An outbreak of mumps at the College of Charleston has been designated by DHEC after three cases of the contagious disease have been confirmed in the past week. The first case was confirmed on Tues. Sept. 17 and the campus community was notified on Fri. Sept. 20.
According to a press release from CofC, school health officials and campus staff have been working to identify and minimize the impact of the outbreak.
Officials say an on-campus vaccination clinic is in the process of being set up and more details will be announced soon.
Normally, mumps is covered by the MMR vaccine, which also protects against measles and rubella, but the vaccine has been proven to only be 88 percent effective, according to CofC, and the school is pushing reminders that even those who have been vaccinated can still contract the virus.
Still, CofC says that the most important thing for those who have not yet received the MMR vaccine to do is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
In a statement on Monday, College of Charleston officials say the school requires immunization for new students in accordance with American College Health Association and Advisory Committee on Immunization standards, but students can be granted a waiver for medical or religious reasons. Students who are exempt can be excluded from certain campus activities to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses, the school says.
CofC communications officials have not responded to questions about whether the individuals diagnosed live in on-campus housing.
Campus Emergency Management officials have advised that students who have not received the MMR vaccine and wish to remain unvaccinated may need leave campus immediately for at least 25 days.
Students who do not comply with these vaccination directives by Friday, Sept. 27, may be asked to leave campus and be excluded from campus events and activities until vaccination documentation is presented or the appropriate time has passed.
In addition, the college is working with DHEC and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to prevent the spread of the virus on campus and to keep things running smoothly for the school’s student body and staff.
The school has been verifying students’ immunization records in addition to isolating those infected to minimize the effect of the outbreak.
The school is urging employees who are presenting symptoms of mumps to self-isolate, staying home from work.
Symptoms of infection include parotitis, which causes swelling in the cheek and jaw area below the ear. Other common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Most people infected with the mumps make a full recovery within a few weeks, and the virus is transmitted through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat.
People are also urged to wash hands frequently; avoid sharing of anything that could have come in contact with saliva or other bodily fluids; cleaning bathrooms, kitchens, and other surfaces frequently; and cleaning keyboards and mobile devices.