March 19, 2010

Students officially excluded from university

[-BULLET-] Those without full vaccination barred in effort to control outbreak



Mumps is a viral disease characterized by fever, headache, muscle weakness, loss of appetite and swelling and tenderness of one or more of the salivary glands situated along the angle of the jaw and inside the mouth.

Roughly one-third of infected people do not have noticeable swelling.

It is spread by direct contact with saliva and discharges from the nose and throat of infected individuals.

Severe complications are rare, but mumps can cause inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, the testicles, ovaries and pancreas, as well as spontaneous abortion and deafness.

PLATTSBURGH — As many as 170 Plattsburgh State students will now be excluded from campus during a mumps outbreak because they are not fully vaccinated against the viral disease.

Roughly 60 of those students — some for religious reasons — have no documentation on file showing they received either of the two doses required for vaccination.

The college has had three confirmed cases of the mumps.

New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines issued an order Friday barring students who are not vaccinated against mumps and who have not contracted mumps from campus for the duration of the outbreak.

Students could be out up to 26 days after the final confirmed case of mumps, though once they have received a first dose of mumps vaccine, they can return to campus.

"This is for their safety and the safety of those around them," said Claudia S. Hutton, director of public affairs for the New York State Health Department.

Three cases of the mumps have been confirmed since the outbreak began Feb. 23, while two more are under investigation.

The outbreak was scattered across campus, and the source has not been identified.

According to the Health Department, an ongoing outbreak of mumps in a religious community in Rockland and Orange counties and Brooklyn originated in England.

Fewer people were receiving the mumps vaccination in England after a report that it might cause autism in young children. That study was apparently discredited, but since then, England has experienced cases of measles and mumps that have spread to other parts of the world.

"Vaccinations are important to prevent diseases which still present a danger," Daines said.

"In the modern age, diseases like mumps are only an airplane ride away. While no vaccine or medical treatment is 100-percent effective, two doses of mumps-containing vaccine will provide the best protection available against mumps."

Plattsburgh State has benefited from spring break, with only a few hundred students left on campus. Classes resume Monday.

University officials expected they would have to exclude some students from campus because of the outbreak.

"Our priority is to protect the health and well being of all students, faculty and staff at SUNY Plattsburgh," Daines said.

"I have issued this order to ensure that students who have not been vaccinated against mumps get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"Vaccination will not only help protect these students from getting sick, but will help prevent the spread of this disease throughout the campus community."

Plattsburgh State officials, working out of the Emergency Operations Center in Hawkins Hall, have notified all unvaccinated students of the exclusion policy.

The Clinton County Health Department held a mumps immunization clinic for students and staff Wednesday. Additional clinics are planned for next week at the university's Health Center, on a walk-in basis.

Individuals who think they may have been exposed to mumps and do not know if they are up to date on their vaccination should contact their health-care providers or local health department.

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