Mumps Outbreak Spreads Beyond OSU Campus

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The Ohio State University mumps outbreak is now spreading beyond the college campus and into the Columbus community. 

In the past month, the virus has infected more than 40 people connected to the OSU campus. This week, almost 20 people with no connection to the OSU community are already infected.

Morgan Hall, a junior at Ohio State University, said she was relatively unfamiliar with the virus before February. "Before this happened I thought the mumps was gone. You know, my grandma had the mumps. You know, I didn’t think that it was really still around," Hall said.

Not only is mumps still around, recovery from it isn't always pleasant.  Symptoms can include a sore throat, cough and painful swelling of the jaw.

Jose Rodriguez of Columbus Public Health said you can spread the mumps without even showing symptoms. "You may be giving it to others and yet you don’t even know it," he said.

While Rodriguez recommends the vaccine, it isn't 100% effective. About 97 percent of the infected OSU population was already vaccinated. But you can take some extra steps to avoid the airborne virus.

Similar to preventing a flu or cold, cough or sneeze into your sleeve instead of your hand. Don’t share food or drinks with others. Wash your hands constantly.

With the right precautions, Rodriguez said an outbreak can be diminished as quickly as it spreads. "If we follow isolation guidelines, and we provide people with vaccines, and we follow infection control, that’s how you will start to see the cases decline," he said.

Recovery from the mumps usually takes anywhere from five days to two weeks and requires isolation to keep the virus from spreading.

Caleigh Bourgeois is a fellow in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. Follow her on Twitter @caleighreports.