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Thomas Czaja, Editor
11:25 am CST January 11, 2019

A letter dated Jan. 9 was sent to Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C parents in regard to a suspected mumps case at Goodings Grove School.

The district was notified of the case by the Will County Health Department the same day of the letter, according to Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Michael Szopinski, who wrote it. The mumps case comes after an outbreak of the disease this past December at Lewis University, along with Lockport Township High School sending a press release out early last month that someone there may have contracted the disease, with that person later testing negative.

On the morning of Friday, Jan. 11, Homer 33C Superintendent Craig Schoppe told The Homer Horizon it was a student, not a faculty member, who has the suspected case, and that the district has not been notified of any other cases taking place since the letter was released. The district wiped all touch points, including door handles, as part of a deep cleaning in classrooms at Goodings Grove with a disinfectant chemical that is an eco-friendly, hospital grade cleaner that kills the mumps virus.

As of press time Monday, Jan. 14, tests were still pending to determine the case, according to Will County Health Department Media Services Manager Steve Brandy. 

Homer 33C stated in the letter that mumps is not common in children up-to-date on vaccinations and is a contagious disease caused by the mumps virus. The disease normally starts with symptoms including a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite, followed by the swelling of salivary glands.

More serious symptoms occurring in rare cases include meningitis, swelling of testes or ovaries, and the inflammation of joints, the district added.

Szopinski noted in the letter mumps is spread via droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when coughing, sneezing or talking. Items like soda cans can also be contaminated with the virus, which can be spread to others if shared. Also, the virus can spread if someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their nose or mouth.

School-aged children should have at least one dose a mumps vaccine — either mumps vaccine or measles-mumps-rubella — on or after their 1st birthday, according to the district. A second dose of MMR is also recommend at ages 4-6, and a parent unsure if their child got the mumps vaccine should contact their child’s primary care provider. 

Homer 33C said since mumps is most frequently transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets, individuals can prevent contracting mumps with common sense precautions such as covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throwing the tissue away; washing their hands frequently with soap and warm water, especially after coughing or sneezing; and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.

Other precautions mentioned in the letter were not sharing drinking and/or eating utensils, cups, glasses, etc.; avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick or experiencing symptoms of illness; and refraining from touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth, since that is how germs are spread. 

Finally, the district said fevers in children should not be treated with products containing aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), since use of aspirin with viral infections like mumps can result in a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.

If one’s child or anyone in the household develops mumps symptoms, they should notify their primary care provider right away, according to Szopinski. Those with mumps should then remain at home five days after the swelling of salivary glands begins.

If a healthcare provider suspects mumps, parents were asked to call the Homer 33C nurse at (708) 226-7792.