A University of Toledo undergraduate fell ill last Friday to what health officials suspect could be a case of mumps, the same week that a Bowling Green State University student came down with a confirmed case of the virus, university officials said yesterday.
Doctors will not know for sure if the UT student has mumps until laboratory test results become available in a day or so, said Norine Wasielewski, senior director of health and wellness at the University of Toledo.
Yet to be safe, UT sent out a campus-wide e-mail Tuesday afternoon informing students and faculty of the possible mumps case.
Officials at both universities could not recall a mumps case at either school in recent memory.
Nationwide, the United States this year has experienced its worst mumps outbreak since 1988, and Ohio health officials have so far reported more cases than in years.
There have been 41 reported cases in Ohio this year to date, a more than 500 percent increase from the eight cases reported in 2005, according to the state health department.
There were 6,201 mumps cases reported nationwide by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from Jan. 1 through Dec. 3.
Before this most recent outbreak, which began on a college campus in eastern Iowa last December, there were on average about 250 mumps cases a year nationwide since 2001.
Ohio Department of Health spokesman Kristopher Weiss said research into Ohio patients' travel histories shows that the Iowa mumps outbreak is not directly related to the increases in Ohio.
Rather, a heightened awareness of mumps among doctors resulting from the outbreak likely has resulted in more vigilant diagnosing and reporting, Mr. Weiss said.
Health officials said that traditionally a third of all mumps infections have gone unrecognized mostly because of a lack of salivary gland swelling, a tell-tale symptom.
Dr. Christopher Halasy, chief of medicine at UT's student medical center, said his staff did not learn about the BGSU mumps case until after it had seen the sick UT undergraduate.
BGSU officials reported Friday in their own campus-wide e-mail that a student who was living off-campus had mumps.
"That Bowling Green case came to our attention after we had seen the case here," Dr. Halasy said.
Mumps is a virus most commonly spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also can be picked up by touching a contaminated surface.
Symptoms include fever, headache, and swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands located close to the jaw.
It is not considered fatal.
The incubation period before symptoms appear is usually 14 to 18 days, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Mumps appears most during winter and spring.
Ohio requires that children be vaccinated against the virus by receiving two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine - once at 12 to 15 months and again between the ages of 4 and 6 years.
While BGSU requires incoming students to be vaccinated against mumps, UT does not.
Yet even getting both MMR doses does not guarantee immunity; the vaccine is only about 95 effective.
The recent mumps outbreak peaked in late April and early May, with the majority of cases coming from Iowa and states near it. In the eight states that reported the most significant outbreaks, the incident rate was highest among those of college age - 18 to 24.
The UT student has not attended class since the preliminary diagnosis and, at his request, has had his final exams proctored at the student medical center, Ms. Wasielewski said.
A BGSU spokesman said she could not provide additional details on that school's case, although a Wood County health department official said that student is receiving treatment and doing fine.
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