Mumps cases reported at University Park; students reminded to take precautions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Health Services (UHS) is reporting that four cases of mumps have been confirmed on the University Park campus.

All of the students were isolated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols and recommendations, and UHS staff have been in touch with those who have been in close contact with the affected individuals. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is monitoring the situation. 

The first two students were infected before returning from semester break. All four students have since recovered and are no longer considered infectious. Those who came into contact with these students have been notified and are monitoring for symptoms.

Mumps is a highly infectious disease passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. While the incubation period is 12-25 days, symptoms often appear 16-18 days after exposure and often include tender swollen glands below the ear and along the jawline on one or both sides of the face and neck, headache, fever and cold-like symptoms. People with mumps are considered infectious from two days before swelling begins through five days after the start of swelling.

For most people, two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine provide adequate immunity to the infection. In January 2018, the CDC published recommendations for use of a third dose of MMR vaccine for people identified as having an increased risk of contracting mumps during an outbreak, such as those who are in prolonged, close-contact settings like college and university campuses. Also, by college age the vaccine-induced immunity of previous vaccinations may have started to fade, making this population more vulnerable.

University Health Services, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, advises the following:

— All students, faculty and staff should check with their health care providers to confirm receipt of two doses of the MMR vaccine after their first birthday. Anyone who does not have immunity to mumps either through receipt of the two-dose MMR vaccine or a previous mumps infection, should schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine. Students may schedule an appointment at University Health Services; faculty and staff should contact their primary care providers.

— All students who have not already done so are urged to request a copy of their immunization information from their private healthcare provider to be faxed to University Health Services at 814-865-6982. During a mumps outbreak, anyone who does not have proof of vaccination may be excluded from campus for 25 days after the last possible date of infection. 

— Although the two-dose MMR series is highly effective for most people, it is important to remember that no vaccine is 100 percent effective for every person. Unfortunately, there is not a good way to determine who has not developed immunity from the two-dose vaccine series. Consider getting a third dose of the vaccine if advised by a healthcare provider.

In addition, UHS advises the following precautions against mumps and flu:

Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; use your upper sleeve to cover your cough, not your hand.

Wash hands frequently and efficiently. When unable to wash with soap and water students should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid sharing food and drinks, engaging in drinking games, or participating in other activities that may result in saliva exposure.

Stay home from school or work when you are sick to rest and limit the spread of illness to others.

With THON fast approaching, anyone who develops mumps symptoms is strongly discouraged from attending THON activities and should contact University Health Services at 814-863-4463.

For additional information, please review the following resources:

Last Updated February 11, 2018