By Mpho Raborife
There has been a recent outbreak of mumps on campus as well as several cases of German measles. Keyur Patal and Bridgette Goosen, Subwardens of De Beers and Victoria Mxenge houses respectively, have both reported infection in their residences. Although mumps is predominantly found in children, Dr Bull, a private Grahamstown doctor, stated that she has seen about 30 cases of mumps and that most cases were Rhodes students. Bull commented that this sudden outbreak of mumps could be due to the virus changing form, leaving the current vaccine ineffective. Due to temperature changes whilst being imported, the vaccine can be rendered less effective. Bull also added that the majority of those infected with the disease were females and that their symptoms were fairly mild.
Symptoms of mumps include a fever, headache, loss of appetite and an itchy throat. The main symptom of this disease is swollen parotid glands, which make it difficult to swallow, talk, chew or drink acidic juices. After initial exposure to the disease, a vaccine is unlikely to prevent infection. Although it is rare, infected adolescent and adult males may develop orchitis, which could lead to infertility. Mumps is highly contagious and can be easily spread through contact with an infected person.
The best way to prevent this disease is an MMR vaccine, which most people are given during childhood. This vaccine gives immunisation against measles, mumps and rubella. Students are advised to ask their parents if they have had this vaccine.