Health officials confirm case of mumps at Calvin College

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As if finals weren’t enough stress for Calvin College Students, now they have the mumps to worry about.

After two weeks of testing and warnings, a student at the college was confirmed by the Kent County Health department as having the once nearly-eradicated childhood disease.

Health department epidemiologist Brian Hartl said a student came to the Calvin College health center with symptoms and a specimen from the student was sent for testing in Lansing.

“This afternoon, just about after noon, we received a positive result for mumps in that patient,” Hartl said.

Department officials say five possible cases were reported with two of the cases came back negative; results for a third case were twice deemed inconclusive.

The health department said it became aware of a fifth case on Tuesday. Test results in that case are still pending.

Last week, the health department says, it gave free immunizations to about two dozen students of the around 40 who weren’t vaccinated. Now, 14 students still have not been vaccinated, four of whom have contraindications that mean getting the vaccination could be harmful to them, including allergies to some of the vaccine compounds.

So now, following advice from the health department and the Centers for Disease Control, the college will isolate those unvaccinated students.

“For those who either are unable to become vaccinated or choose not to become vaccinated we’re working with them to find a way to isolate them and to accommodate that and to work to help them complete the semester,” said Sarah Visser, vice president for Student Life.

Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness that is spread through the transfer of saliva or mucus. Symptoms include swollen jaws and puffy cheeks, which may progress to more serious complications in unvaccinated adults.

“I was a little bit scarred because I have an ear infection and I have a cold as well, so I was a little bit hesitant, so I actually went to health services. So, I was a little bit frightened in the beginning,” said freshman Jonathan Miller

“Well, it’s surprising because something like the mumps you wouldn’t expect to break out on a campus and it’s scary as well because a campus it can be a cesspool for germs and all sorts of things,” said sophomore Mark Peless.

Students said they were glad the college acted quickly and kept them informed.

They also felt sympathy for the students who will have to leave campus just as the school year comes to a close.

College officials tell me none of the 14 unvaccinated students are graduating seniors, who would have been forbidden from attending commencement scheduled for a week from Saturday.

The county and the college will continue to monitor the health hopeful that they final week of class will end with no new health scares.

Online:Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Mumps

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