24 people at University of Florida have mumps, though vaccinated

Mumps outbreak on college campus in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Caillin Heron tells Action News Jax she contracted mumps as a student at the University of Florida.

“My friends actually noticed I was taking really small bites,” said Heron. “And they were like, ‘Are you OK?’”

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The recent graduate is now a Second Lieutenant at Ft. Knox, KY.

Heron tells us she nearly missed her first two weeks of work as an Army cadet instructor.

“The first five days were just like, really bad,” she said. “… fever, chills, achy, didn’t have much of an appetite.”

Heron tells us she’s doing much better now.

She’s one of 24 people who have tested positive for mumps while at UF since May 3.

Three of those patients have shown symptoms. All 24 were vaccinated.

UF Spokesperson Steve Orlando tells Action News Jax Reporter Ryan Nelson many of those who tested positive were identified through the work of the University’s Student Health Center.

Beginning with ‘patient zero’, he says the center was able to identify those who may have been impacted, and ask them to be tested. He tells us the center's work resulted in positively identifying some of those carrying mumps.

With mumps a growing concern at the university, we spoke with a local doctor about what you can do to protect yourself.

Dr. Daniel Thimann, a pediatric and emergency medicine doctor at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, tells us vaccinations don’t guarantee you won’t contract the disease.

But he says they can limit the damage done by a virus like mumps.

“The vaccine has been shown to mitigate the disease on the people that get the vaccine,” he said. “So these kids are going to have less of the side effects and the complications of mumps.”

Dr. Thimann recommends those who haven’t been vaccinated do so.

“Prevention is key,” he said. “And the only way we can prevent disease is through vaccination.”

He tells us most people receive their first dose of the “Measles, Mumps, and Rubella” (MMR) vaccine in their first year of life, and their second a few years later.

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During an outbreak, he says medical professionals determine if adults who may be impacted should get a third dose of MMR, using guidelines set forth by the CDC.

Nelson asked Alachua County Health Director Paul Myers if any students, faculty or staff at UF would be recommended for a third dose of the vaccine.

He tells us it’s under consideration, but the antibody counts of those infected and vaccinated are relatively high.

“… We are currently evaluating whether or not a third dose would provide significant, effective protection,” said Myers.

Meanwhile, in a statement to Action News Jax, Orlando explained what the university is doing to keep students informed:

"In addition to social media posts and messaging on digital displays around campus, the university sent an email to all students on Monday from the interim director of the Student Health Care Center, Dr. Ronald Berry, informing them of the situation and offering advice on measures and precautions to take to avoid contracting mumps."

They’re encouraging students to wash their hands frequently, not to share drinks, cover their coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect shared surfaces, stay home if they’re sick and seek treatment.