BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana is in the midst of a small mumps outbreak. At the heart of that outbreak is the campus of LSU. The first cases were reported by the Louisiana Department of Health around March 16, following a major outbreak in Arkansas.
The challenge, per assistant state health officer, Dr. Parham Jaberi, is that someone infected with the mumps virus may not show symptoms for up to three weeks. "It becomes a challenge because once we identify the problem through public health, we're playing catch up," said Dr. Jaberi.
Symptoms of the mumps include fever, aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands. The virus itself is not usually a serious illness and most people recover on their own. However, it is extremely contagious, leaving crowded areas like a college campus at high risk for infection.
"Often times, it's spread through kissing, sharing of utensils, personal items, and in concentrated areas where people live close together," said Jaberi.
The university has reported about 20 cases of mumps so far. Jaberi said there's been a handful of cases in other areas of the state as well. Doctors say a vaccine is the best way to prevent the mumps, but for the vaccine to be most effective, two doses are needed. Even then, it's not a guarantee. The Louisiana Department of Health says most of the current cases involve patients who were vaccinated.
LSU requires immunizations for new students and recently offered booster shots in coordination with the health department and the CDC. Some preventative tips include:
- Stay at home for five days after symptoms begin; avoid school or work settings
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Don’t share eating utensils, cups, drinking glasses, or water bottles
- Clean surfaces that are frequently touched, such as computer devices, television remotes, doorknobs, tables, and counters, regularly with soap and water or with disinfecting wipes
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner
For more information on mumps, click here.