COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Columbus Public Health now confirms that they have seen 21 cases of the mumps connected to Ohio State University.

"They range in age between 18 and 48," said Columbus Public Health spokesman Jose Rodriguez.

17 of the cases are OSU students. One case is a family member, one case an OSU staff member, and two are people with strong ties to the university.

Rodriguez says the department is not only closely monitoring the cases in central Ohio, but cases around the state and nationally. That due in part to the fact that OSU students are just returning from spring break and may have taken the disease with them.

Two of the female victims were hospitalized because of the illness. Two sickened people were hospitalized for a day and released. 

Rodriguez expects cases to continue to trickle in for the near future. That's because the incubation period of mumps is 15 to 25 days.

Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks, according to the CDC. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. 

In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.

"There's always an opportunity when you have a disease that is highly contagious and the incubation period is so long - it could be a long outbreak," he said.

Rodriguez says it's vital to practice good hygiene and stay away from others if you are sick.