Three mumps cases confirmed at University Park campus

November 21, 2019

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

The impacted students have been isolated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols and recommendations, and UHS staff is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to identify those who have been in close contact with the three confirmed cases.

Mumps is a highly infectious disease passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. Symptoms often include tender swollen glands below the ear or 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. 

Students who may experience mumps symptoms should schedule an appointment with UHS by visiting myUHS or call the Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463; faculty and staff members should contact their primary care provider if they experience symptoms. Answers to frequently asked questions about mumps are available below:

What is mumps? What are the symptoms?

Mumps is a serious contagious disease passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. Mumps symptoms often include tender swollen glands below the ear or along the jawline on one or both sides of the face and neck, headache, fever, and cold-like symptoms. Complications from mumps, although rare, can include inflammation of the testicles, ovaries, breasts and/or brain. The incubation period of mumps is usually 16 to 18 days but can range from 12 to 25 days.

How can I protect myself from getting mumps?

Mumps is passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. Students are urged not to share food or drinks, and not to engage in activities where drinks are shared or where the virus can be passed through saliva exposure. In addition, frequent hand-washing and proper respiratory etiquette also are encouraged to help prevent spread of the disease.

What if I was never vaccinated against mumps?

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 immediately to receive the vaccine at University Health Services or from their primary-care provider. If you cannot show proof of immunity to mumps, you may be excluded from campus for up to 26 days. Penn State requires that all undergraduate and graduate students be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella.

If I was vaccinated, am I protected?

Most of the recent mumps cases nationally are in students who received the CDC-recommended two doses of MMR vaccine. While two doses of MMR vaccine typically provide adequate immunity to the infection, the vaccination does not guarantee protection. According to the CDC, the mumps component of the MMR vaccine is about 88% effective when a person receives two doses.

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 increase in cases, 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.

What should I do if I contract mumps? What is the treatment?

While there is no treatment for mumps, University Health Services is advising that anyone who develops mumps symptoms get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take over-the-counter pain medication to ease symptoms. Students are also urged to stay home, isolate themselves from others for five days after the start of the symptoms, and avoid activities where food or drinks are shared or where the virus can be passed through saliva exposure.

What is Penn State doing to stop the spread of mumps?

Students who have developed mumps symptoms have been isolated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols and recommendations. University Health Services staff are now working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to identify those students who have been in close contact with any confirmed or probable mumps cases and advising a third dose of MMR vaccination if indicated. Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination may be excluded from campus, in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading. 

For additional information, please review the following resources:

— Pennsylvania Department of Health, Mumps Fact Sheet

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mumps: Q&A

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mumps Information

Last Updated November 21, 2019