BY ISABELLA MARCON
A recent outbreak of mumps has been confirmed at CCHS’s neighboring school, Pioneer Middle School, last week.
Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease that causes one’s salivary glands to swell. Although the disease is almost fully wiped out due to the development of vaccines, sudden and rare outbreaks can occur.
The outbreak at Pioneer prompted the school’s principal, Michael Consaul, to send out a letter to all parents, alerting them that students showing symptoms of mumps would be prohibited from attending school until a doctor determined that they were no longer contagious.
“One of the tell-tale symptoms of the mumps are swollen cheeks,” Memorial West Hospital registered nurse Lauren Kissel said. “People say you can look like a chipmunk because it does affect the salivary glands, which are in the mouth and around the cheeks, and they can get swollen. Other symptoms can also be fatigue, low-grade fever, a loss of appetite and muscle aches.”
Though the principal’s letter did not confirm whether the infected person was a student or staff member, rumors of more than one mumps case at the middle school quickly followed the incident and spread throughout social media.
“At first, I was scared of getting the mumps because I didn’t know what they were.”
“When I first found out about the mumps breakout, I was confused on what they were and what they do,” Pioneer seventh grader Alexandru Bulat said. “At first, I was scared of getting the mumps because I didn’t know what they were, but then my parents explained to me that I had the vaccine to prevent it.”
The recent outbreak has resulted in ongoing speculation on the topic of diseases and their prevention, causing a critical divide between parents who vaccinate their children and parents who choose not to.
“There’s an increase in the anti-vaccine movement belief system,” Pioneer parent Nicole Hicks said. “This can possibly be the cause of why we see an increase in diseases and illnesses that had previously fallen off before.”
As far as treatment, a student who is unlucky enough to contract mumps has very little treatment options due to the viral nature of the illness. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, not viral ones like mumps. Once the person is separated from the population, the main treatment options target minimizing the symptoms and discomfort until the body’s own immune system can fight off the illness.
Over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) could be effective in reducing pain and lowering fever. Ice packs or cold compresses are useful for soothing the pain of swollen glands. People infected with mumps are also encouraged to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids in order to support their immune systems.
At present, there are no confirmed cases of mumps at CCHS. However, if a student experiences flu-like symptoms, accompanied by swelling of the salivary glands beneath the ears and chin, it is recommended that students report to their doctor immediately for evaluation and possibly a mumps test.
Photo by Makinzi Burgs