Students React to TB and Mumps on Campus

Since the news broke that IUPUI is experiencing mumps and tuberculosis cases, students have expressed concern about the lack of information that the university has provided.

Butler and IU Bloomington have also had students contract the mumps, totaling a dozen students between the three campuses. While Butler is having booster clinics to help combat the spread of the virus, a Marion County Health Department spokesman told the IndyStar that IUPUI has not reached that point.

The mumps virus is vaccinated against on two separate occasions, usually when the subject is a small child. According to the CDC, two doses of the mumps vaccine are 88 percent effective at preventing contraction of the virus. If a person is only vaccinated once, that chance drops to 78 percent. Mumps are spread through the transmission of saliva, such as coughing or sneezing.

Tuberculosis is an airborne bacteria, famous for its symptom of coughing up blood. The vaccine for tuberculosis is not used in the United States. People have to breathe in the bacteria to contract the illness.

IUPUI did not notify or email the general population of students about the tuberculosis case on its campus. IUPUI did send emails to students on Feb. 18, explaining that a mumps case had been reported on campus. However, only students that had classes with the infected individual had been further notified of the situation.

The limited information available started conversations amongst students on social media immediately following the news of the mumps case on campus.

The emails that are sent to students who have been potentially exposed to mumps only review the recipient’s immunization records and ask that students monitor themselves for potential symptoms, which include swollen salivary glands, fever, and fatigue.

IUPUI has maintained via emails to students that they have been working with the Marion County Health Department on the matter and that students who were not notified by the university are not at risk.

Despite those assurances, many students have voiced the opinion that the university did not provide as much information as students would have liked. While IUPUI has made students aware of the mumps case, no information was sent out regarding the tuberculosis incident.

“I didn’t know about the tuberculosis; I only knew about the mumps,” Nick Walton, 22, an electrical engineering major, said. “I get an email every time there’s a robbery a block and a half off campus. I think that mumps and other illnesses are more relevant.”

Other IUPUI students saw both sides of the issue concerning the information they received from campus.

“It would have caused a problem with people not coming to class, but it’s crucial for them to let us know so that we can be aware,” Cardell Tucker, 19, a social work major, said.

Abby Delph, 21, a history major, was one of the students that had class with the tuberculosis patient.

“I think they handled it well. I can understand it being condensed to the classes that [were affected by it,] because maybe they were trying to prevent a widespread panic,” Delph said. “People in my class were really put off that it was just them being notified, because if any of them had active TB, they felt that people who interacted with them should know about it.”

According to Delph, students in her class were immediately offered tuberculosis testing and the school had someone come to the next class to answer all of the students’ questions.

While the two separate illnesses are not likely to affect the whole campus, students feel that more could have been done to alert them about any potential risks.

“We’re all 20-some-odd years old; we’re all vaccinated,” Reed Neece, 21, an anthropology major, said. “I feel like there could have been alerts. I didn’t hear anything. I heard it through Facebook.”

As stated in an article from Inside IU Bloomington, emergency alerts are sent out when an incident on campus involves “the threat of death or serious injury to people, significant damage to the university facilities or significant disruption of university operations.”

The last IU Notify alert sent to the IUPUI community was sent on Feb. 12 to warn students about a road closure caused by a water main break.

Student opinions on the matter of their health and safety continues to differ from the university’s concerns.