One Confirmed, One Suspected Case of Mumps at FCLC


The New York City Health Department is currently investigating the reported mumps outbreak at Fordham University. Currently, there is one confirmed case of mumps on the 18th floor of McMahon Hall. There is a second unconfirmed case of mumps at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), according to two sources in the position to know but unable to speak for the administration.

There are currently more than 13 suspected cases of the mumps at Fordham University. A “small number of suspected mumps infections” were reported since Thursday, Feb. 20, but the University has not released an updated number of cases since Friday.

Courtesy TYFN via Flickr
Courtesy TYFN via Flickr

“When addressing the mumps, [Fordham] is following all the recommendations from the Department of Health,” Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC, said. “We are encouraging students to take care of themselves. The protocols are similar to what you’d hear for preventing the spread of the flu.”

On Thursday, Feb. 20 at 3:06 p.m., Campus Security announced in an email that there was one case of suspected mumps at FCLC in McMahon Hall, with an additional, so far unannounced suspected case, according to sources. Campus Security had previously announced that, as of Feb. 19, there were eight cases of students with suspected mumps infections at Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) in a University-wide email blast sent out at 5:26 p.m. The number of students suspected with the mumps has since grown to more than 13 cases.

Throughout The Observer’s multi-day coverage of the mumps outbreak, both Jenifer Campbell, director of Residential Life at FCLC, and Kathleen Malara, executive director of Fordham’s Health Services, have been unresponsive to  multiple requests for interviews.

Mumps is a viral infection that causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and parotitis – swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face.

“Symptoms include fever, body aches, headaches and swelling of the salivary glands. The parotid gland, located just below and in front of the ear, is usually affected and may also swell. About a third of people who contract the mumps virus do not develop symptoms,” the Health Department said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is “spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes, or talks.” Items used by an infected person can also be contaminated with the virus.

ResLife notified a resident on the 18th floor of McMahon Hall on Thursday that her suitemate was suspected to have contracted the mumps. “They called us and said they had a suspected case,” she said.

“I did my laundry and went out for a few hours, and I don’t know where she is,” the 18th floor resident said. “I don’t know if she is gone, but if she is here, I want her to stay over there,” she said, pointing to her suitemate’s room.

Students who have contracted the viral infection have been quarantined from other students. “All students who might have mumps infections have either returned home or have been isolated from other residents during the time they might be contagious,” the Health Department said.Students, who cannot be sent home, are kept in their apartments in McMahon Hall. When asked about which students get moved, Bob Howe, senior director of communications, said that “sometimes it’s the sick student; sometimes it’s the roommates: it depends on circumstances.” The suitemates of the infected student on the 18th floor have not been relocated, however, according to a member of ResLife, a group that was directed to not speak to any student publications.

According to Eldredge, Fordham is taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. “Many of the students with the mumps went home,” he said.

“Those who couldn’t go home were quarantined,” Eldredge said. “Students are being quarantined for five days, for that is how long for the virus to be contagious. We have also worked with food services, so students quarantined can be delivered food.”

Students that have contracted the mumps are encouraged to stay home for five days after the symptoms begin and to avoid school and work settings, according to the Health Department.

Other preventative measures include the wrapping of loose fruit in the cafeteria with saran wrap, to prevent the spread of the infection.

Fordham students are encouraged to warn overnight guests and visitors on campus of the mumps outbreak. “While all of the students with suspected mumps infections have either returned home or have been isolated from other residents during the infectious phase of the illness, there is no way to ensure campus visitors will not be exposed to the virus,” Campus Security said, in an attached letter sent to the University. Copies of the letters can be found at the entrance of Lowenstein.

Health Services at Rose Hill followed its normal hours this weekend, while facilities at Lincoln Center (LC) which are typically closed on the weekends, was to remain closed.

“There is no outbreak at LC, just one patient: we have to put our resources where they’re most needed. Rose Hill is open Saturday and Sunday, and students can call Safety and Security 24/7 if they’re feeling ill,” Howe said via email at 5:29 p.m., Friday.

An email blast from ResLife at 7:07 p.m., however, announced “the University Health Center (UHC) at Lincoln Center will be open on Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23 between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.”

Students with mumps symptoms should contact the University Health Care Center for instruction before visiting their campus heath care center.

Though students at Fordham University are required to receive vaccinations that prevent mumps (among other diseases) before enrollment, “vaccinations do not offer 100 percent protection,” Campus Security said in a statement.

“University Health Services staff are required to be fully vaccinated: it’s unclear whether University faculty and other staff are so required,” Howe said.

“Studies suggest that the mumps vaccine is 80 percent to 90 percent effective. That means that for every 100 people vaccinated, 80 to 90 of them will be fully protected, but 10 to 20 are at risk for the disease,” the Health Department said.

People infected with the mumps are contagious two days before to five days after they develop symptoms.

Q&A with Medical Director Emergency Medicine of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Dr. Jeffrey S. Rabrich

OBSERVER: What are some measures students can take to prevent the mumps?

Dr. Jeffrey Rabrich: I don’t know there’s anything really you can do to prevent the mumps. The best thing you can do is to make sure you’re immunized.

OBSERVER: Students that have been affected at Fordham University have been immunized.

JR: Right. It’s very hard. You’re infectious before you have symptoms. So, it may be very difficult…like any other common cold, good hand-washing, cover your mouth when you cough, don’t share utensils, those kind of things. Just general practices like that. But people who have mumps, or end up getting it and are infectious, they’re infectious before they’re really having symptoms, so it’s really hard to know and to kind of isolate yourself and not spread it because by the time you know you’re sick, you’ve already been contagious for a while.

OBSERVER: True or false: The disease is stronger, and you can die from it.

JR: Most people do well with the mumps and recover and don’t die from it. It’s generally a self-limiting, nonfatal infection, but it can make you pretty miserable and uncomfortable for a while.