In the past two months, 300 cases of the mumps were reported in Arkansas. Now, as many as a dozen cases have been reported in Louisiana. College students are especially at risk because they live in close quarters.
Universities such as Loyola University in New Orleans, are being proactive about prevention.
First, there were a few cases of mumps on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, then two on the Loyola campus in New Orleans. Students at Loyola said they were alerted by e-mail.
"It's a little scary I guess, but I guess it's a little irrational because I know if I have my shots, it's ok," said Loyola sophomore Sophia Panagiotopoulos.
"It's kind of strange because it's something I haven't heard about in a long time, but not too much because I'm sure I'm pretty safe," said Loyola senior Summer Abukhomra.
They are right. If you had both your vaccine as a toddler and the booster at school age, there's an 88 percent chance of protection from the mumps virus making you sick. Even though it is required by law to go to school, there are parents who opt out of vaccinating children for various reasons, even though doctors say it is safe and effective.
"This year we've already seen more than 1,200 cases in the first several months across the United States. Last year there were more than 5,000 cases, which is the greatest number of cases in ten years," said Dr. Fred Lopez an expert in infectious diseases at LSU Health Sciences Center.
The mumps can seem like the flu, which we're seeing a lot of now, so have your doctor test your illness and watch also for the classic signs of swollen glands in your neck.
"People who are infected with the mumps are infectious for two days before the swelling of the glands and the fever and all of the other symptoms develop," said Dr. Lopez.
It's spread by coughing, sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces, then to your face, so at Loyola they are educating students on prevention.
"We also encouraged them to engage in proper hygiene, not sharing drinks, or utensils, or food. Proper hand washing is really important," said Dr. Alicia Bourque, Loyola's Director for Counseling and Health services.
Those students were isolated but are now back in class.
Mumps can cause swelling in the brain, miscarriage in early pregnancy, deafness, and in rare cases it can be fatal.
Because of medical privacy, we do not know if the students statewide were vaccinated.
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