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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

IU Bloomington confirms 6 cases of mumps, warns number could grow

Five of the six are students who live off campus.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) — Indiana University confirms three more cases of mumps, bringing the total to six since February 21st and that number could grow. That's despite an Indiana law requiring students attending state-sponsored schools to be vaccinated for mumps and several other contagious diseases.

IU spokesman Chuck Carney said all but one of the students infected with the virus live off-campus. That infected student lives in a fraternity house.

"We were able to contact those students in close contact with these (students diagnosed with mumps) to make sure they know about it and get get vaccinated, if need be," said Carney.

Still, Dr. Beth Rupp, medical director of the student health center, does expect more cases.

"I would guess there have to be because we don't necessarily have a strong correlation between all six of them, so I would guess there are others who either haven't had symptoms or have had mild symptoms and didn't recognize it," she said.

Students we talked to called that worrisome.

"It's definitely concerning and I think it happens every single year I've been here," said Abbie Deluca, a senior.

IU has had small outbreaks numbering a handful of students the past few years, but nothing close to what's happening at Temple University in Philadelphia. Thousands of students there have been lining up to be vaccinated after more than 100 students were infected with mumps.

Temple does not require students to be vaccinated, but given the outbreak, they will next fall. IU and other state-sponsored schools require students to be vaccinated before attending unless they've been granted a religious or health exemption.

Carney said all six IU students diagnosed with mumps had been vaccinated for mumps and other illnesses on the list, leaving Samantha Pine puzzled.

"Yeah, I feel like I've been vaccinated forever so I never assumed I'd be one to get it or a campus could get it," Pine said.

"I feel like most of the outbreaks happen in the dorms," Deluca added

Lauren DeVito agreed. "That's what I've heard and everyone living on top of each other."

Rupp said those living in "close quarters" are more prone to catching the virus. But if you're vaccinated, how do you wind up getting the mumps?

Rupp said for one, the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective. It's closer to 88 percent.

"There is some concern about the herd immunity being lessened with fewer people being vaccinated and some concern with the mumps portion of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine), that some of that immunity wanes over time," Rupp said.

That's why anyone possibly exposed to mumps is encouraged to get an extra MMR vaccine as a precaution.

Carney said members of the fraternity where the male student became ill will be offered free vaccinations Thursday from the state health department.

IU previously reported mumps cases on campus in February 2017, and IU and Butler reported cases in February 2016. The new cases were confirmed last week and into the weekend. Two cases were confirmed in February. The third case happened in March.