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IU: Nearly all mumps patients were vaccinated, prompting some students to get third MMR shot

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The campus clinic at Indiana University (IU) is testing approximately three symptomatic students each day for mumps, university officials said Wednesday.

The disclosure came hours after IU announced a total of 16 confirmed cases.

The campus mumps outbreak is “relatively contained,” according to university spokesperson Chuck Carney, but is expected to continue growing.

Nine of the infected students are associated with an IU fraternity, he said, adding not all of them are members.

The university declined to identify the fraternity for privacy reasons.

Fourteen of the infected students had been vaccinated prior to their mumps diagnoses, according to Carney, prompting university and health officials to offer additional shots.

A free clinic was held at the fraternity house in an effort to boost immunity in students who already had the two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine required by the university.

“They’ve been able to get a third MMR shot,” Carney told News 8. “What that does is provide a boost of immunity for about a month… It will help people stave off this illness.”

However, only 58% of the fraternity’s 149 members opted for a third dose of the vaccine during the clinic held April 4, he said.

Minimizing the spread of the virus before students go home or depart for jobs and internships at the end of the academic year is a top priority; university and health officials may discuss the possibility of holding another clinic at the fraternity house.

Health officials in Seattle also administered additional doses of the MMR vaccine to students after discovering the majority of mumps cases in a 2017 outbreak at the University of Washington (UW) occurred among fraternity and sorority members, according to a study published December 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The 42 infected students at UW had all received at least two documented doses of the MMR vaccine, the study found.

“Other studies have demonstrated that close contact is required for mumps transmission to occur in a population with high mumps vaccination coverage,” the CDC said.

Artur Derkach, an IU senior involved in Greek life, told News 8 he was “thankful” he no longer lived in a fraternity house.

“I guess [the outbreak] kind of makes sense when you have a bunch of guys living together, seeing each other every day and sharing the same living space,” he said. “That’s a little bit concerning that mumps is getting out to the vaccinated populations.”