Campus Life

Mumps cases continue as Special Olympics, summer camp season approach

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Health Services (UHS) is reporting nine new mumps cases connected to the University Park campus since May 1, including four in the last week.

With the Pennsylvania Special Olympics and summer camps expected to bring large numbers of visitors to campus this week and in the weeks ahead, those who do not have presumed immunity to mumps — either through two doses of the MMR vaccine or through previously contracting mumps — are urged to take precautions to avoid exposure to mumps and be aware of the risks.

The incubation period for mumps is 12 to 25 days, which means that anyone exposed to someone with mumps could be infectious at this time. People most at risk are those who have not been fully immunized, including infants and young children who are not yet old enough to be fully vaccinated, and those with compromised immune systems, making them more susceptible to infection.

University health officials, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, have been closely monitoring mumps at University Park, with 31 confirmed cases linked to the campus since January. All of the identified cases have had at least two, and in some cases three, doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

All individuals with confirmed cases have been isolated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols and recommendations. UHS also has notified and provided recommendations to those who have had direct contact with mumps cases, at the time their exposure risk was identified.

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. Students who develop symptoms should contact UHS at 814-863-4463; faculty, staff members and visitors should contact their primary care providers.

UHS advises the following precautions against mumps:

— Stay away from people who are sick.
— Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper sleeve, not your hand.
— Handwash frequently with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
— Don’t share food and drinks with others, engage in drinking games, or participate in other activities that may result in saliva exposure.

About mumps

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 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 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.

University Health Services advises the following:

— All students, faculty, staff and campus visitors 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, staff and visitors 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 health care provider to be faxed to University Health Services at 814-865-6982. During an increase in mumps cases, 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 health care provider.

For additional information, please review the following resources:

Pennsylvania Department of Health, Mumps Fact Sheet

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mumps: Questions and Answers

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mumps Information

Last Updated June 04, 2018