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Officials working to contain mumps outbreak on Syracuse University campus

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta, center, speaks to the media Wednesday about an outbreak of mumps on the Syracuse University campus

Syracuse University and the Onondaga County Health Department are trying to contain an outbreak of mumps on the SU campus. 

So far 13 cases have been confirmed since late August, with ten other suspected cases according to health commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta. She says all of the cases involve students who have been vaccinated for mumps.

Nearly the entire student population falls under that category, and Gupta says the way to stop the spread of the infectious disease, sounds much like avoiding the flu. Students should wash their hands, don’t share drinks, cover their cough and stay home if they’re sick.

“In terms of social activities, people have to really take charge of their health, which is important,” said Gupta.

Gupta says there is a two pronged strategy to keep more cases at bay.

“The goal is to try to mitigate the situation,” she said. “So first raise awareness. The second comes with more outreach. Then we contain it. And we continue to do that.”

Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience at Syracuse University says the campus has been reaching out to students and parents.

“Over the last several weeks we’ve launched a very aggressive educational campaign that included over 5,000 brochures and flyers that we’ve shared throughout the campus, in the residence halls, in the dining halls, in the student center,” said Evanovich. “We’ve had automated phone calls that went to students and parents, because parents are a very important audience.”

Many initial cases of the mumps were limited to the schools lacrosse teams. Their activity has been curtailed for the time being. 

Five students identified as not having been immunized, have been quarantined in local hotels, as well as students confirmed to have the disease. There has been an uptick in the number of mumps cases in recent years, especially on college campuses across the country.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.