Immunity uncertainties keep 115 from returning to USD

Immunity uncertainties keep 115 from returning to USD
With the passing of Monday's deadline for showing proof of immunity from mumps, The University of South Dakota had 100 students and 15 faculty and staff banned from campus, a spokesman said.

USD has two new suspected cases, both of them employees, joining four other cases for a total of six, said Kenyon Gleason, director of media relations.

"All the people are in isolation," he said. "Of those first four cases, we should know their results by (Tuesday). The two new ones have been excluded from campus for the next nine days, unless they find out they don't have the mumps. Then they will be allowed back on campus."

The 15 faculty and staff excluded from campus should not present a major problem as USD conducts finals week, Gleason said.

"We expected there would be some, so 15 is not alarming out of about 1,200 faculty and staff. Most of them are already gone from campus for other reasons," he said. "Of the faculty and staff that will be excluded, the vast majority are on vacation, on sabbatical, away from campus, on annual leave or otherwise sick. A couple were medically unable to take the (mumps) shots."

The 100 students excluded from campus represent a small percentage of the 5,000 to 6,000 on-campus students, Gleason said. School officials are contacting the 100 students by phone and e-mail, seeking their proof of immunity or a record of their measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations, he added.

"We have alerted faculty that these students are excluded from campus and are not to be allowed in the classroom to take their finals," he said. "These students need to make alternative arrangements with their professors on how to finish their coursework or finals."

The USD student services office will help those students banned from campus however possible, Gleason said.

"USD wants to be as cooperative as possible," he said. "If these students can show proof (of immunity), they are allowed back onto campus immediately."

The exclusion policy, passed by the Board of Regents, covers all of the state's public colleges and universities, Gleason said.

Saturday's commencement exercises remain as scheduled in the DakotaDome, he added. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m.

According to the state Health Department Web site, a total of 1,887 vaccinations had been given as of Monday at free clinics for students and staff on campuses across the state. The figure includes 38 at Mount Marty College in Yankton and 472 at USD.

As of last Friday, South Dakota had 13 confirmed cases, 24 probable cases and nine suspected cases. Clay County was listed with cases in all three categories, with one confirmed case a USD student no longer in isolation. Yankton County had at least one confirmed case, and Charles Mix and Turner counties had at least one probable case.

Statewide, cases ranged from 3 to 78 years old, with the median age of 22. The cases were 43 percent male and 57 percent female. Of the cases, 59 percent have had two MMR vaccinations, while 74 percent have had at least one.

The Department of Health will update its mumps statistics today (Tuesday).

In northeast Nebraska, Knox County had one mumps case as of Monday, while Cedar and Dixon counties had not recorded any cases.

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