COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMOX/AP) – (UPDATED 8:15 a.m.) The University of Missouri is urging student groups to halt some social events as the number of mumps cases continues to rise.
University spokesman Christian Basi said Thursday that “for the safety of our students and university community” the school has called off a late night breakfast during finals week that typically draws from 1,500 to 2,000 students, plus faculty and staff. Finals begin Dec. 12.
He said the school also is urging student groups to consider canceling or postponing other social events. Most of the cases are linked to students in fraternities and sororities.
The outbreak began in early November with four confirmed cases on the Columbia, Missouri campus. The Student Health Center reported the latest numbers Wednesday.
SLU Care pediatrician Dr. Ken Haller at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital told KMOX there are a few ways to help prevent it from spreading:
“If you are in a household with someone who has mumps, don’t share their glass, don’t share their utensils,” Haller says.
And for the person already with symptoms of mumps, Haller says they need to play it safe and help others by sneezing into a handkerchief and always washing your hands.
Mumps is a viral infection that causes swelling in the salivary glands and cheeks. The university is among several across the nation Harvard and Tufts among them that has grappled with outbreaks this year.
Although mumps outbreaks haven’t been common in the U.S. since routine vaccinations began, there has been a rise this year, according to the CDC. As of Nov. 5, 2,879 mumps cases had been reported nationwide since the beginning of the year more than twice as many as in all of 2015.
All infected University of Missouri students received the required two doses of a vaccine that protects against mumps, as well as measles and rubella. But the vaccine doesn’t prevent all infections and anyone with symptoms is asked to stay at home.