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Mumps outbreak centered at U of Illinois

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More than two-thirds of the state's 73 known cases of mumps are in Champaign County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. (AP File Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

An outbreak of the mumps has been linked to the University of Illinois campus in Champaign where students are just weeks away from starting the new school year.

This is the state's largest outbreak of mumps in more than a decade. Seventy-three total cases with 50 of those - or more than two-thirds - just in Champaign County - -mainly on the campus.

"Dorms are a great way to spread infection," said Dr. Renee Slade, a pediatrician at the Rush University Medical Center. "People are hanging out together. Great way to be social, but easy method of viruses from one person to another --11:36

Slade recommends that her patients make sure they are properly immunized by getting two MMR vaccinations.

Mumps is highly contagious and symptoms don't present right away.

"They might just have low-grade fever. Feeling down and haven't developed typical symptom of swelling of salivary glands," Slade said.

Nearly everyone who became sick with mumps in Champaign County had been vaccinated, but health experts speculate they still got mumps because the vaccine's effectiveness wanes over time. However, it still provides at least partial immunity to nearly everyone who gets it.

"The vaccine is clearly not 100 percent protective. It's between 90-95 percent protective," said Dr.Rachel Rubin, of the Cook County Department of Public Health. "These students have gotten mild cases and they've recovered. Nobody has been hospitalized."

The university is working to isolate mumps on campus and is asking for students to help in that effort.

"We recommend that people who have the mumps stay isolated. Stay home. Don't go to school, don't go to work," Slade said.

Most people fully recover from mumps in a few weeks.

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healthvaccinescollege students
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