Third case of mumps hits campus

By Bridget Maiellaro

A probable case of mumps was found at Alpha Omicron Pi sorority house Tuesday. It is the third suspected case to arrive on campus this year.

“It is a suspected case,” said Robin Kaler, associate chancellor. “It is not a confirmed case. We have contacted anyone who has been in close contact with the person who perhaps has mumps, but there’s not really a lot you can do to prevent it.”

Kaler said the girl was taken out of her sorority house to her home shortly after she was diagnosed with a possible case of mumps.

Symptoms of mumps include headaches, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen salivary glands, according to the Center for Disease Control. Although the disease is generally mild, severe complications could include inflammation of the brain, spontaneous abortion and deafness, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of McKinley Health Center, met with members of Alpha Omicron Pi, 706 S. Matthews St., at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Kaler said.

He talked to them about getting vaccinated if they weren’t, Kaler said.

Palinkas told the sorority that the test results would not be in until next week, Alissa Wolfel, president of the sorority and junior in Communications, confirmed.

“At the University, you’re required to be vaccinated,” Kaler said. “There are about 700 people who are not, and the vaccine does not protect you against every strain.”

Kaler said that about 100 students have a medical exemption or some religious exemption and about 600 are new to campus. New students have a semester to get vaccinated.

The first confirmed mumps case arrived on campus a few weeks ago.

“That person is better now,” Kaler said.

The second case was only a suspected case.

The Illinois Department of Public Health recorded 168 cases throughout the state in 2006, three of which were reported in Champaign County, said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Whether of not that includes the case on campus, I’m not sure,” Arnold said. “It’s up to the local Champaign health department to report it to the state’s public health department.”

The number of mumps cases has significantly increased in Illinois compared to the past five years, when the state averaged about 13 cases per year, according to the Department of Public Health.

“If students have any kinds of symptoms, they should double check with local physicians and let them know that there is an outbreak on campus,” Arnold said.