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University of Iowa Mumps Cases Still Growing

Mumps is an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus. Symptoms include fever, headache,...
Mumps is an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, which are followed by swelling of salivary glands.(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 16, 2015 at 7:00 AM CST
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Mumps is still a growing problem at the University of Iowa. School officials said Tuesday they don't yet see any sign the number of cases are slowing.

November 9th, Johnson County reported 116 cases of mumps, the vast majority were believed to be at the UI. Fast forward to last week, 162 cases. As of Monday, that number grew to 196 cases, 152 of them at Iowa.

Lisa James, Iowa’s associate director for clinical outreach, said mumps case numbers are typically much lower.

"In an average year, sometimes you see one or two,” said James. “The numbers are very low. A really random case here or there, but it doesn't spread."

James said mumps numbers this year are the highest they've been since 2006, when the Midwest had a large outbreak of the contagious disease. She estimated a couple hundred cases showed up on campus.

With numbers again inching that direction, the UI fought back in November with free vaccinations. About 4,800 students got a third measles, mumps and rubella shot at eight clinics spread out across campus.

James said the shots don't seem to have slowed mumps numbers yet. She hoped that will happen sometime after students return from Christmas break.

"No one really knows the right number for herd immunity, which can protect a whole community,” James said. “We certainly have done a good number of students. But, as you know, our student enrollment is over 30,000."

Mumps is caused by a virus. It's spread through droplets, meaning coughing, sneezing, kissing, even talking can infect another person.

Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, and the tell tail sign of swelling under the ears, on one or both sides. If you get it, James said it will likely put a person out of commission for about five days.

“One of the basic concerns for a college student, it takes them out of commission for at least five days,” she said. “The students that we are seeing are actually pretty sick. Some of them are out for six or seven days.”