Morgan Golliver, Assistant News Editor
After one student at Syracuse University contracted the mumps in late August, the virus has since spread to more than 76 cases, with the confirmation that 37 students currently have the virus, causing a health epidemic on Syracuse’s campus.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is a contagious virus that swells salivary glands.
The most common symptoms of mumps are a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen glands. These symptoms lead many to believe that they have a ‘common cold’ until days later, their cheeks are puffy and salivary glands are swollen, indicating that they have mumps.
Mumps can be easily spread, especially at college institutions such as Syracuse University.
“Any institution is susceptible of viruses even if students are vaccinated,” said Julie Murawski, director of the UC Student Health Center. “Mumps are spread through close contact, such as coughing, sneezing, talking, kissing and sharing items from others.”
To become immune to the mumps virus, the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccination is offered and is mandatory for children to receive two doses prior to attending kindergarten. A third dosage is not required, but is strongly considered during an outbreak. Syracuse University gave close contacts of those affected a third dose to help them fight off the virus.
With the mumps outbreak happening an hour away from Utica, the UC community was concerned of something similar happening on its campus.
Murawski, who has worked at UC since 1999, says there have been no cases of mumps, but UC has had bad cases of chickenpox and the flu in recent years.
“It’s very fortunate that there haven’t been any mumps cases at UC, but we have had contagious diseases on campus,” Murawski said. “We’ve dealt with international students with chicken pox before and every year we have a couple of students with the flu.”
The UC Student Health Center is currently advertising that students stop in to get their flu shot on the daysheet and with flyers on campus, which Murawski says helps motivate students to get vaccinated.
“Flyers, email and clinics have all helped raise awareness for making sure students get vaccinated,” Murawski said. “We also have a receptionist at the front desk that asks students if they would like to receive a flu shot even if they are there for another visit. So far, we have vaccinated over 360 students and if we ever run out of vaccinations, we always order more.”
But even if students are vaccinated, they are not completely immune to the virus.
“All vaccinations aren’t 100 percent effective,” Murawski said. “But, if a student gets sick after getting vaccinated, they experience less severe symptoms. We currently have two students with flu-like symptoms: one student was vaccinated and is experiencing minor symptoms while the other student wasn’t vaccinated and is experiencing milder symptoms and is much sicker than the vaccinated student.”
In recent years, there has also been controversy on whether people should be vaccinated or not. UC nursing students shared their thoughts regarding how important it is to be vaccinated.
“I believe all individuals should get vaccinated,” senior Michael Wells said. “I do understand that individuals think that vaccines have a direct correlation to developmental disorders such as autism, however there has been extensive research into the connection between vaccinations and Autism, none of which have provided substantial evidence backing that claim. Research has concluded that vaccines are safe to be administered to children.”
But, Wells also says that there’s nothing that administrators and staff can do to make sure everyone gets vaccinated as it’s the individual’s choice.
“Individuals are given a right to determine if they want to get vaccinated or not,” Wells said. “Institutions like UC, however, can give the appropriate education on vaccinations in hopes to avoid an epidemic like the one that is occurring at SU. There is also a debate on whether or not parents should have the right to refuse vaccinations on their children, but that is a completely different debate.”
UC currently has a student health portal where students can upload and share their immunization records with UC Admissions prior to coming to college, which the UC Student Health Center can access as well.
Senior Emra Klempic said the UC health portal is very important and helps students in making sure they are up to date on their vaccinations.
“Vaccinations are very safe and effective at preventing illnesses, such as the mumps and the flu, so everyone should get vaccinated and stay up to date,” Klempic said. “If a student is missing a vaccination, they will notice that on the UC health portal and it’s important that they receive the necessary vaccination as soon as possible, so that it doesn’t end up becoming a public issue.”
To receive a flu vaccination, visit the Utica College Health Center, located on the second floor of Strebel, or make an appointment with your primary care doctor.