Columbus Mumps Outbreak Spreads

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Columbus health officials say confirmed cases of mumps keep increasing. The first of 116 cases was reported in January on the OSU campus.(Photo: .)
Columbus health officials say confirmed cases of mumps keep increasing. The first of 116 cases was reported in January on the OSU campus.(Photo: .)

Columbus health officials normally report one case of mumps per year. This year 116 cases of mumps are confirmed, mostly among students and staff at Ohio State University. As the disease continues to spread health officials have opened a special immunization clinic.

Mumps cases are usually rare. The disease can be prevented with a vaccine. That’s why 67 year old Larry Pridemore of Columbus was among the first in line Tuesday to get what’s called the MMR vaccine for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.

“Well, I don’t want to get sick, you know. I especially don’t want to get the mumps because it affects you in places I don’t want to be infected,” says Pridemore.

At his age, it’s unlikely Pridemore received adequate immunization. Health officials say people born before 1987 are more susceptible to the disease. At that time, health officials began giving a second dose of the mumps vaccine. State epidemiologist Doctor Mary Diorio says 90 percent of Ohio children get immunized against mumps before their second birthday. By kindergarten age, 98 percent of Ohio children are vaccinated. But, some children are exempt from Ohio’s vaccine requirement.

“One is a medical exemption. There are certain vaccines some individuals should not be receiving those vaccinations. An example would be if they’re allergic to a component in the vaccine and might not be able to get that vaccination. And then another reason could be a religious or philosohical exemption. And those individuals, also, parents can seek an expemption for their child,” says Diorio.

Doctor Diorio says immunization rates for Ohio adults are unknown. She says that’s not data the Ohio Department of Health collects.

In Franklin County, those infected during the recent mumps outbreak range in age from 4 to 58. Columbus Department of Health spokesman Jose Rodriquez says most of the 116 individuals with mumps were vaccinated.

“We do know for a fact that there were at least three individuals who were not vaccinated,” says Rodriquez.

Rodriquez was glad Pridemore came to the clinic. While mumps is not fatal, the disease can lead to health complications.

“Now, we are starting to see why it’s a big deal. We have four cases orchitis, which is inflammation of the testicles. That can have serious implications. We have one case of potential deafness. Talk about the impact on your life if you were to lose your ability to hear,” adds Rodriquez.

Mumps often starts with fever, fatigue and body aches. Those infected are urged to stay home for a few days, cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing.

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