On February 19th, students at Fordham University received an email from the security office that for once, did not announce a snow emergency. Rather, the subject line said, “University Health Services | Possible Mumps Outbreak.”
Confusion and incredulity was the general reaction to last week’s news that thirteen Fordham students had come down with a case of the relatively rare viral infection with the funny name. Suddenly, local news teams were descending upon our peaceful campus. It seems like every year Fordham finds itself in the news for some strange and unbecoming reason.
The Ram Realm spoke by email with a female junior who contracted mumps on Tuesday, February 18.
“The first two days were the worst,” she said. “I had a fever of 104 at one point.”
According to the Rose Hill junior, on Wednesday, February 19, the day of the first Fordham email alert, she experienced pain in the glands of her mouth. At first, she dismissed the pain as an issue with her molars. The next morning she woke up with extreme pain in her mouth, however, and she recognized her pain as a symptom of the mumps. That’s when she decided it was time to go to the health center.
With several cases already reported and confirmed that Wednesday, the health center was quick to identify the virus in her. The biggest issue was to contain the virus, so her parents were contacted and asked to provide a space for quarantine.
“My parents picked my up right away,” she said. The immediacy with which she was able to find a place to comfortably recover from the virus without letting it spread was a lucky coincidence.
“I’m from the Tri-state so it wasn’t that far of a drive,” she said. “There is really nothing I can do about getting the mumps. Just wait for my body to heal itself and move on to my normal schedule again. My teachers have been very considerate.”
Unfortunately, when the student returned to school on Thursday, she again came down with an illness that sent her right back home. Whether or not that illness is related to the mumps is yet to be confirmed.
At the worst times during the week fighting the virus, the swelling in her glands was so bad that she could not eat solid foods.
As for the USG Vice President of Health and Security, Luke Homer, FCRH ’14, dismissing the mumps as nothing more than a little worse than the common cold?
“The USG president is completely wrong,” she said. “I think he has no idea what he is talking about. I would take a common cold for a month rather than having the mumps for 5 days.”
Funny name aside, the mumps are no laughing matter. Before the prolific microbiologist Maurice Hillman found a vaccination for the viral infection in the mid-1960s, mumps was a regular contagion. In this way, it could be considered similar to the common cold, but mumps symptoms cause more extreme discomfort.
“It is miserable,” she said. “The foods I can eat are really limited considering my face is really swollen. I’m also contagious for about a week so I am stuck in the same room in my house all day. I can’t do anything besides watch TV and read. It is also really inconvenient because I’m missing a lot of my classes and work.
As for the stories (like this one) about the rash of mumps infections at Fordham, the junior dismissed any coverage of the outbreak as “hype.” Furthermore, she says, for the most part, preventive measures made by Fordham were sufficient.
“I think the situation could have been handled differently, but there isn’t really anything you can do to prevent an outbreak of mumps,” she said. “In my opinion, the situation was handled in a professional manner. It would have been great if the school notified us about the outbreak in January. But even if the students were notified I don’t think they would have approached their day any differently.”
To date, there have not been any new confirmed cases of the mumps in the last four days. Any students or faculty members with symptoms should call the Health Center.
*Photo courtesy of WikiHow.com