Olentangy Local Schools will begin excluding students who are immunocompromised or who have not been vaccinated from school due to a sixth case of mumps identified in the district.
“Of six (individuals in whom) we’ve identified cases, we’ve had one more case in one building (with a student already identified with mumps) and they’re linked,” said Olentangy director of communications Michael Straughter. “The health department says, ‘Slow down.’”
The directive from the Ohio Department of Health, the Delaware General Health District and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was to exclude all immunocompromised and unvaccinated students from class for 25 days or until the student can receive vaccination for those students not excluded from vaccination for medical reasons.
“We’ve already identified the students and notified those families,” Straughter said.
Mumps cases have been identified at Liberty Tree and Scioto Ridge elementary schools, Liberty and Shanahan middle schools, Olentangy High School and Liberty High School. These cases have not been confirmed by laboratory testing, but are considered probably based on symptoms. In an outbreak, all symptomatic cases are considered probable.
Students may not receive vaccines for a variety of reasons, including religious objection, medical contraindication and personal reasons. Those students who cannot receive the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) prior to 6 years of age are at highest risk of contracting the mumps virus.
Students who have received one dose but not a second dose should get the second dose immediately, after which they may return to school, DGHD recommended. The first childhood dose of MMR is given between 12 and 15 months of age; the second is given between 4 and 6 years of age. Health departments are now recommending that all adults, in addition to college students and healthcare workers, be vaccinated with a booster of MMR.
“That sort of mitigates the situation (but removing those most at risk), but 25 days is 25 days,” Straughter said.
“Three weeks of school is a long time to be out.”
The district has arranged to send home work for students to keep up with their studies while out, but the district has scheduled the 3rd through 8th grade reading assessments scheduled to begin April 21.
“We’ll make accommodations for that,” he said. “It won’t be counted against (the excluded students) and they won’t miss it.”
Delaware Cities Schools has also identified one case in the district at Conger Elementary School, but does not need to begin exclusionary procedures at this time, said spokesperson Jennifer Ruhe.
She said parents have the right to keep their children home if they so choose, but that at this time, the case is isolated.
“We’ve had no new reports in Delaware City,” she said. “We’re still staying in constant contact with the health department and keeping abreast of new news.”
DGHD released a statement Friday afternoon that the health department has remained in constant contact with the schools.
“During this outbreak,the Health District has remained in regular communication with schools to provide them with the information they need to keep parents up-to-date,” the statement read. “If a school building is identified as having more than one case of mumps, the Health District will immediately be in communication with that school district along with the parents of the vaccine-exempted children. Parents can rest assured that if their child attends a school where a mumps case has been identified, they will be notified.”
DGHD spokesperson Traci Whittaker told The Gazette that neither schools nor any other facility affected by mumps can be identified by the DGHD due to health care privacy laws under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). She said this does not affect communication with the schools.
An estimated 248 people are now part of the outbreak of mumps in Ohio.
As of Friday, 27 mumps cases have been reported in Delaware County, two of which are connected the initial outbreak at The Ohio State University and 25 of which are part of the community-wide outbreak. Columbus Public Health is now reporting 207 known mumps cases in Franklin County, 141 of which are linked to the OSU outbreak and 66 of which are part of a community-wide outbreak.
OSU remains the epicenter of the outbreak, with 151 of the total reported cases connected to the campus since January, when the first case was reported. Universities have seen outbreak activity in the past, often among students living in close quarters such as dormitories. An outbreak that affected more than 6,000 people in 2006 mainly affected universities in the Midwest.
In addition to Delaware and Franklin counties, Marion, Union, Fairfield, Pickaway and Licking counties have identified mumps cases part of the community-wide outbreak; Athens, Belmont, Clark, Fairfield, Hamilton, Licking and Pickaway counties are all noting cases related to the OSU outbreak in addition to those cases in Delaware and Franklin counties.