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Nov 22, 2003

Mumps cases in Ill. county rise to 63

1 hour, 1 minute ago

The number of mumps cases in DuPage County has increased to 63 this year, with 40 cases confirmed at Wheaton College, health officials said Friday. Medical professionals in this suburban Chicago county normally see only three cases per year and are now wondering when the outbreak will end.

"At this point we anticipate that it will at least continue for weeks," said Dr. Rashmi Chugh, a medical officer at the DuPage County Health Department.

Forty Wheaton College students have been diagnosed with the illness since Sept. 7, and four more cases are under investigation, according to officials at the liberal arts school of about 2,400 students.

Twenty-three students returned to class after completing a nine-day isolation period.

"As soon as they come in and are evaluated in the student health center with mumps symptoms we put them in isolation," said Wheaton College spokeswoman Tiffany Self. "If they're local then we send them home."

Benedictine College in Lisle has also confirmed one case.

Federal health experts have called a mumps outbreak that began in Iowa last December and spread to other Midwest states the largest in almost two decades.

This year, Illinois has reported more than 600 cases, a huge jump from the previous average of 10 cases a year, DuPage officials said.

Brian Payne, a junior at Wheaton College, said he was not concerned about catching the disease.

"I hear you can become infertile if a guy gets it. That would be a very unfortunate event in my life. But I'm not wearing a mask to class," Payne said.

Mumps symptoms include swollen glands near the jaw, fever, headache or muscle aches. Vaccinations given to children typically limit mumps cases, although a vaccinated person can still contract the disease.

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