Health officials in McLean County, Ill. are reporting an increase in mumps cases connected with the Illinois State University (ISU) campus prompting an alert of state health officials of the outbreak.

Mumps virus/CDC
Mumps virus/CDC

Melissa Graven, Communicable Disease Program Supervisor with the McLean County Health Department said,  “New reports of mumps started coming in at the end of January which prompted us to share mumps prevention information again with the public. When a virus like mumps is circulating it’s not too surprising to see a cluster of cases appear in a closed community, like a college campus, despite our prevention messages – it’s a contagious disease in a population that participates in social activities and often lives in more densely populated living quarters. What we are focused on now is stopping the continued spread of the virus at ISU by encouraging students to be sure they have received two doses of MMR, stay home if they feel ill, and seek care from their healthcare provider if signs and symptoms persist.”

ISU will be communicating with the campus community and following up with more specific information and instructions for campus members that are the most susceptible to the mumps virus.

Throughout the county there are currently 6 confirmed mumps cases, with additional test results pending. An outbreak occurs when there are three or more positive cases of a disease connected by time and place. The age range of those currently diagnosed with mumps is from 6 years to 37 years of age.

“Now that the mumps virus is circulating again please take steps to protect yourself and others, it will not only protect you and your family, but it will help us protect the community,” says Graven. “We really want to be sure we are protecting those who cannot get the mumps vaccination due to medical conditions, and the community can help by making sure they have done all they can do to prevent contracting the mumps virus.”

Preventative steps everyone should take to avoid getting the mumps include the following good health practices:

• Make sure you are up-to-date on two (2) doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

• Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.

• Avoid sharing drinks, eating utensils, and cigarettes with others.

• Wash your hands well and frequently with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use an alcoholbased hand sanitizer.

• Clean frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, tables, desks, counters) regularly with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.