Rare case of mumps surfaces at Marquette University

Measles vaccination. | Photo: TODAY'S TMJ4

Rare case of mumps surfaces at Marquette University

By Jesse Ritka. CREATED Sep 10, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep 10, 2012

MILWAUKEE - The City of Milwaukee Health Department has confirmed one case of the mumps at Marquette University but other students may be at risk.

Dr. Dirk Steinert of Columbia St. Mary's Germantown clinic tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka the virus is incredibly contagious, "It's potentially alarming because it can spread quite easily."

You can catch the mumps just by being in the same room as an infected person, Dr. Steinert explains, "Its respiratory droplets.  Usually within 5 days you might have symptoms, but it could be up to 2 weeks you might be able to transmit it."

The infected student spent time at the Union Sports Annex on September 4th, possibly exposing others to the mumps between 3pm and 11pm.

Marquette Senior Bridget Bolotin found out about the case on Friday, "I heard about it a couple days ago, the University sent out an email."

The viral infection used to be much more common, with more than 200 thousand cases every year in the U.S.  But in years following the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination, there are typically fewer than one thousand cases of the mumps reported.

Students at Marquette are required to show proof they've had two of the MMR vaccinations in order to attend the university.  Failure to send immunization records to the University within the first 30 days of registration will put a medical hold on student accounts, including registration for classes.

Bolotin had her shot before coming to Marquette, "I didn't think you could come to the university without taking those shots so I figure everyone should have them."

The recommended vaccine can prevent up to 95 percent of infections, which is why Bridget isn't too worried, "Someone is always going to have some kind of sickness and I feel like the University has made everyone aware."

But being such a rare and contagious disease, there is still cause for concern.  "We don't know who's going to be coming from where, when, now with international travel, I think the case in Milwaukee is an international traveler.  Vaccination is the key," Dr. Steinert says.

Symptoms include a fever, chills, sweats and swelling of glands.  If you think you are at risk you should see a doctor, but call ahead so you can be isolated when you get there to avoid the risk of infecting other people in the waiting room.  If untreated, mumps could result meningitis, male sterilization, and even death.

Health officials hope Marquette's immunization requirements will help keep this case of the mumps confined to just the one student.

Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka joined TODAY’S TMJ4 and Storm Team 4 in February 2011 as the “Live at Daybreak” weekend meteorologist. Growing up in Prior Lake, Minnesota, Jesse has always been fascinated by storms.