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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

First case of mumps hits dorms

University health officials confirmed the first case of mumps in University Housing Friday, with the infection of a 19-year-old female in Witte. The case marks the second confirmed case of the disease on the UW-Madison campus. 


According to epidemiologist Craig Roberts of University Health Services, a case in the dorms is not substantially different or more serious than a case off campus, but it can increase the number of those who may have been exposed. 


In a house you're really only exposing three or four people; in a dorm you might expose 30 or 40 if you hang out with them a lot,\ he said. 


Roberts said the student with mumps will remain in isolation for nine days and said most students in Witte have probably not been exposed, but some said they are concerned nonetheless. 


""I'm concerned mainly because of the fact that finals are coming up, and it would be unfortunate to become that ill during such an important time in the school year,"" said UW-Madison freshman and Witte resident Caitlin Saucier. 


Saucier said she has been immunized and is following general good health practices to lessen her chances of infection. 


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""I'm not terribly concerned because I'm generally pretty healthy, so I think that it's not a huge cause for panic right now,"" she said. 


University Housing officials sent out a mass e-mail to all Witte residents Friday, informing them of the infection and telling them to watch for symptoms. 


According to the e-mail, it would be ""unlikely"" that those students who have been vaccinated twice will contract mumps. The mumps vaccine is said to be 90 to 95 percent effective. 


Roberts said mumps used to be common in the United States, but now most people are immunized, making an outbreak of the disease more newsworthy. 


""These cases are happening in largely previously immunized people, so that's an interesting twist on it from a public health and medical standpoint,"" he said. 


In addition, Roberts said those who have been immunized and still contract the disease often experience less severe symptoms, making diagnosing the virus's presence difficult. 


""They have some partial protection, and it appears from my reading of the data and talking to some of the students on our campus, they don't have really full-blown classic mumps,"" he said. 


Roberts said although the virus spreads more efficiently through an environment in which people have close contact, such as a college campus, only 20 to 25 percent of the outbreak so far has been on college campuses. 


Roberts said students should check their immunization records and avoid swapping saliva with others. 



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