Texas State health workers fear more mumps cases as graduation looms

Hays

Texas State University health workers are still awaiting test results from two students examined for mumps on Monday. Doctors have already confirmed two cases this week.

The question now: will they see more pop up before or during this week’s graduation ceremonies?

“We certainly don’t want people who are sick to attend events where we have a lot of people together,” said Dr. Emilio Carranco, the university’s health center director.

His team scrambled to send out emails to students and parents ahead of this week’s commencement ceremonies, which start on Thursday

The university has thousands of visitors and parents on campus this week as students move out of dorms for summer break.

“If you have mumps, I feel like you know something is wrong with you,” said Hayley Strickland, a freshman, whose mother is on campus helping her pack up her things.

“I am concerned,” said Hayley’s mother Heather Strickland. “But she was vaccinated. I think she is protected from it.”

According to Dr. Carranco, one of the students was vaccinated and still caught the viral infection.
This highly-contagious outbreak could spread beyond the Bobcat campus, as the university confirmed that one of the four students works at the San Marcos outlets.

And, there is a connection between three of the students: they were close friends. 

“All of those students have been out in the community,” said Dr. Carranco. “There is the potential that any one of these students could have been anywhere.”    

One of the students wasn’t vaccinated because that student’s parents opted out of the vaccination because they don’t believe in the vaccine, Dr. Carranco said.

He said the mumps vaccination is roughly 88 percent effective, but still advises students to get it because it could reduce the severity of symptoms that include muscle aches and painful swollen glands.

“Our goal is to make sure we understand what the exposures might have been and we try to address that as quickly as we can with notifications,” Dr. Carranco said.

The cases are reminiscent of an outbreak at the University of Texas last year, where seven students came down with mumps. Like most state universities, Texas State does not require students to get a mumps shot before enrolling. Under state law, the only vaccination public universities in Texas require is for meningitis.

Health workers said the number of mumps cases in Texas has surged for the last two years. By this same time last year, doctors had reported 221 cases across the state.

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