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9 Mumps Cases Diagnosed At University of Illinois

Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 25, 2014.

Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 25, 2014. (Sean Powers/WILL)

University of Illinois officials say nine students on the Urbana-Champaign campus have been diagnosed with mumps. The cases are part of an outbreak that has already produced more cases this year than the state saw in all of 2013.

Dr. Robert Palinkas, the director of the campus McKinley Health Center, said the students were all vaccinated, but that the vaccine is only 80-to-90 percent effective.

“No matter how you cut the cake, the vaccines don’t always stimulate the immune system to do the right thing, and that means there will always going to be people around who can still get it in spite of having been vaccinated," Palinkas said.

Palinkas said the nine student cases have all been diagnosed since spring break, and he says a faculty member may also have mumps.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says 65 other cases have been confirmed this year, far more than the 26 from all of last year.

Meanwhile, Illinois officials are urging parents to vaccinate their school-aged children under new regulations from the Department of Public Health.

There are usually only 35 reported cases of mumps a year in Illinois. But this year, the state is already at twice that number. Health officials are scrambling to contain the highly contagious disease.

Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said vaccinations are key to both understanding the problem and fixing it.

Though vaccination is required by law in order to attend school in Illinois, Hasbrouck said in any given year, about 60,000 children are not immunized.

"What we don't have is the vigilance on behalf of parents, and we don't have the vigilance, in my opinion, on behalf of the schools, who need to really reinforce and enforce the laws and say, 'Well, no, Johnny can't come to school unless he brings proof of his vaccination,'" he said.

Hasbrouck said an outbreak of mumps can be expensive, both in extra demands on health professionals, and missed work and school for those infected.

Categories: Health