Lauderdale Health & Counseling Center has put out a public health notice regarding a number of students who are afflicted with the mumps virus. Currently, there are four confirmed cases of mumps, according to Health & Counseling Administrative Director Erin Halligan-Avery. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 17. In addition to the original reported case, three more were reported on Nov. 22. Of the four cases, two students live on campus and two live off campus. There are another three possible cases that have yet to be confirmed, according to the Nov. 30 Health Services Update.
Health & Counseling Medical Director Dr. Steven Radi spoke on the immediate protocol the health services staff has been implementing to handle the mumps outbreak.
“What we have to do with a public health threat like this from a health services perspective is to make the diagnosis as quick as we can,” he said. “Depending on what the disease is and what the threat is, [we then] get that individual to a place where they are not actively spreading whatever illness they have and then really get our partners involved very quickly—which is the Livingston County Health Department—in doing the investigation.”
The Livingston County Health Department speaks with the individual who has been diagnosed in order to discover who else might be at risk, according to Radi.
Following the immediate diagnosis period, Radi described Lauderdale Health & Counseling Center’s process in preventing students who are not immunized against mumps from catching the virus.
“The other thing we had to do immediately was to gather a list of our students who had never been immunized against this disease,” he said. “They are asked not to be on campus for the 26 days from the most recent confirmed case. That clock for them ticks now until Dec. 19, which is the day before the semester ends.”
The college’s administration also responded separately to the outbreak, Halligan-Avery said.
“We worked very closely with the communication department to create a [mumps] Frequently Asked Questions page. Steve [Radi] and I worked very closely together with the rest of the Health & Counseling staff and the Department of Health,” Halligan-Avery said. “The Dean of Students was actively involved. Even facilities pulled together to make sure that we have extra hand sanitizers and masks around, so it really is a group effort.”
Halligan-Avery also spoke about convening Geneseo’s Critical Incident Response Team in order to deal with campus wide concerns efficiently. The CIRT dealt with organizing the pertinent information as well as coordinating with faculty members in order to ensure that non-immunized students will not fall behind in their absence from classes, according to Halligan-Avery.
Looking forward, Radi stated that the Health & Counseling Center is trying to remain diligent toward potential cases.
“We’re on heightened awareness and we have students coming in each day with concerns about it,” he said. “Every case will be investigated by the county health department to see if there are links and such. If we’re seeing patterns of contagiousness that we can do something about, we surely will do something about that.”
Radi admitted that it is likely to be difficult responding to the mumps cases going forward, but that other schools have faced similar outbreaks.
“I can tell you that SUNY New Paltz has had 21 cases this fall. Because the incubation period is so long—up to 25 days—it tends to get around because it spreads like a cold, like a respiratory infection,” he said. “It’s just a matter of being diligent, communicating well, doing our best to investigate the outbreak and, of course, taking care of our students who have it.”