2 mumps cases confirmed at Barrington High School

BARRINGTON, Ill. (WLS) -- A northwest suburban school district has reason to believe there could be more people infected with a highly contagious disease.

The Lake County Health Department confirmed Thursday two cases of mumps at Barrington High School. The latest is an adult employee. The first case of mumps was confirmed by the school Wednesday night.

In addition to the two confirmed cases at the high school, the health department said there are 18 suspected cases, where people are showing initial symptoms. One of those cases is probable, meaning blood tests came back positive. Health officials also said there are nine suspected cases of mumps at both the Prairie and Station campuses of Barrington Middle School. This is not yet considered an outbreak, the health department said.

A school district spokesman for Arlington Heights said that there is one possible case of mumps at South Middle School as well. Parents have been notified by email and the school will undergo an in-depth cleaning.

"They're vaccinated so I'm not too worried about it," said Kevin Diluia, a South Middle School parent.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include swollen glands along the jawline and in front of the ear. Other symptoms include headache, low-grade fever, fatigue and loss of appetite. Mumps is spread through coughing, sneezing and other contact with saliva.

After being exposed to the virus it can take two to three weeks for symptoms to arise and a person can be contagious a couple days before those symptoms develop. That's why health officials said more cases may develop in the coming weeks.

Parents said they were pleased with how the schools handled the cases and were not concerned. But they also reminded their kids to stay diligent.

"We're always, like parents, telling them to wash their hands. You know, take care of yourself be hygienic," said John Kolasinski, a Barrington parent.

For Ellie Michaels, a Barrington High School student, the cases at school are affecting her job.

"I work at a daycare and I usually work with babies, so they cannot have me work with babies until this mumps situation goes away," Michaels said.

There has been a stepped up deep-cleaning effort at the high school. Classes were in session Friday. Cleaning will continue through the weekend. Officials plan to monitor incoming cases and excuse students who show any symptoms.

"Stay home from school if you're not feeling well. It is cold and flu season. Whether it be mumps or the flu or any other common colds, we want to keep them at home where students can rest and get well and just, generally, keep our population healthy," Barrington High School Principal John McWilliams said.

About 98 percent of Barrington High School's students are vaccinated. Health officials advised students who are not vaccinated to stay home for at least 25 days. If they have been exposed to the virus, they should stay home up to 50 days.
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