Mumps outbreak at SUNY New Paltz: swim team quarantined, unvaccinated students sent home


On Wednesday, October 26, SUNY New Paltz issued a terse statement that the Elting Pool in the Athletics and Wellness Center was being closed until further notice, without further explanation. The following day, the mystery was cleared up: A spate of mumps cases had been reported on campus in the previous couple of weeks, and the common denominator among the victims had been narrowed down to participation in the intercollegiate swimming program.

A follow-up statement from Athletics, Wellness and Recreation director Stuart Robinson was released on Thursday, saying that the department had “suspended swim practices and workouts until Friday, November 4, 2016 to allow for time to see if there are any more confirmed cases from other members of the program.” In addition, intercollegiate swim meets scheduled at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey this past Saturday and at Hartwick College in Oneonta this Saturday, November 5, have been canceled.

“The State Health Department indicated that we do not need to close the pool indefinitely and there is minimal risk of transmission,” the official announcement went on to say, but a quarantine has gone into effect. “We have disallowed any current members of the swimming program to serve as lifeguards, participate in general aquatics programming or interface with any of the contracted groups [such as the Hawks Swimming Association and New Paltz High School] for the time being.”


Noting that “the transmission of mumps is through close contact, sharing of utensils, drinking glasses and saliva contact,” the director explained that the five students who had been diagnosed with mumps “have been isolated for the recommended period of time,” following standard campus protocol. The first notification to students that a mumps outbreak was suspected was issued on October 7 by Student Health Services director Dr. Jack Ordway.

All SUNY New Paltz students are required to provide documentation that they have received at least one MMR (mumps/measles/rubella) vaccination, unless they are exempted for religious reasons. “A small number of students who have not been immunized have been sent home during the incubation period,” Robinson’s statement continued. Community trick-or-treating in the SUNY dormitories scheduled for this past weekend was also canceled.

Mumps is caused by a respiratory virus, whose symptoms include painful swelling of the salivary glands near the ears and under the jaw, which can occur on one or both sides of the face. This swelling may be associated with other nonspecific symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and decreased appetite. Outbreaks of mumps were reported in several Long Island communities in August and September of this year.

For information about the reopening date for the Elting Pool, contact the Athletics, Wellness and Recreation Department at (845) 257­-3910.

There are 17 comments

  1. roadfiddler

    Ahhh, we are now reaping the benefits of those who for “religious” reasons have chosen not to vaccinate their kids. I guess they figured that their kids would never get the complications from mumps so why worry?

      1. roadfiddler

        So do you know that those who got mumps in New Paltz were in fact vaccinated? That would have been an interesting point to include in the story. I’m very surprised it was omitted. By the way,I’ll bet those that don’t vaccinate are not going that route for “religious” reasons, unless you consider a blanket anti-vax attitude a religion.

        1. vik

          I think most if not all of those who got infected were indeed already vaccinated. i don’t knows why they didn’t include that in the article

        2. Stacey

          Experts have learned from recent outbreaks that despite
          having received the MMR vaccine, people can still get
          infected with mumps. During these outbreaks, spread of
          mumps usually happened in very crowded conditions, such as
          in schools. It appears that people who get mumps vaccine and
          later get mumps are less likely to have serious complications
          than unvaccinated people.
          So once again, people are willing to pretend like facts don’t matter in order to feel better about their decision to ignore science because it’s scary and uses big words they don’t understand.

  2. Nancy McInerney

    Since the kids who got the mumps were vaccinated, why are the kids who weren’t vaccinated sent home. Seems a bit ridiculous to me. Obviously the vaccine didn’t work.

    1. roadfiddler

      I didn’t read in the article that those who came down with mumps had been vaccinated. What is your source for this additional info?

      1. Bella

        E-mails were sent out to students, one of which said, “Today the Student Health Service was notified that one of the two SUNY New Paltz students who displayed symptoms compatible with mumps has tested positive. Per campus protocol, the students, who have both been immunized against mumps, were isolated for the recommended period of time. ”

        Not sure why they left that tidbit of information out, but the first few students were vaccinated. The other ones, I’m not sure.

    2. heyo

      Bc they were vaccinated a while ago with a different mumps vaccine and since its a virus it can change its dna and potentially affect anyone that is then exposed to it, though those who have the vaccine are likely at lower risk. The students sent home had not received any form of protection against the mumps so it was precautionary. There should be a new vaccine that should be made and everyone on campus should get it.

  3. Polly want a cracker

    Non vaccinated individuals always get sent home. Its clearly the best option. No where did this article state this was caused from a non vaccinated student. In most current cases of the mumps it’s been in fully vaccinated individuals. But people always will blame the non vaccinated person. Vaccines can, and do fail. A titer test can prove this. Not in all cases, but it does happen.

    1. An Actual Immunologist

      They do not blame the non-vaccinated individuals, the non-vaccinated individuals were sent home for their own safety!

  4. Ima

    Important question: where those students that were infected with mumps vaccinated prior acquiring this current infection?

    All non-vaccinated students were sent home however, there is nothing stated regarding the vaccine status of those infected.

  5. An Actual Immunologist

    When one dose of the vaccine is given (as is stated in the article, students that attend must only have received one dose out the 2) the body will recognize the virus and begin making antibodies(IgM) in response to the perceived infection. If the second dose of the vaccine is not given, there is a possibility that the antibody(IgG) load in the body is not adequate enough to allow for the lymphocytes to adequately dispose of the infectious agent. Also, vaccines are not fool-proof, they have a high effective rate but not 100% for all people. I dread to see how this will play out at my Alma Mater….

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