Campus Life

Students urged to exercise caution as potential mumps cases increase

Editor's note: As of March 17, Penn State University Health Services has investigated 49 probable or confirmed mumps cases at University Park. Of these 49 cases, 23 have been confirmed by lab tests. Please check back here for future updates.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — University Health Services (UHS), a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, is advising all students to closely monitor their personal health and avoid high-risk activities as potential mumps cases at University Park continue to rise.

Since Jan. 29, when the first confirmed case was reported at University Park, 19 suspected, probable or confirmed mumps cases have been investigated. Of those 19 cases, four have been confirmed by lab tests. (Note: The most up-to-date numbers can be found at the top of the story.)

Mumps is a serious contagious disease 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 respiratory etiquette are also encouraged to help prevent spread of the disease.

With spring break approaching and other warm-weather social events on the horizon, students should be particularly cautious, especially if they are planning to travel.

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.

People infected by mumps are considered contagious from three days before swelling begins through five days after the start of swelling. Anyone who has experienced symptoms is urged to contact UHS at 814-863-4463 or a local health care provider immediately.

While two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine typically provide adequate immunity to the infection, the vaccination does not guarantee 100 percent protection.

In addition to avoiding the noted behaviors, UHS also advises the following actions for all members of the Penn State community:

  • 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.
  • Students who have not already done so are advised to request a copy of their immunization information from their private health care provider to be faxed to University Health Services at 814-865-9309. During a mumps outbreak, people identified as a contact of a suspected, probable or confirmed case of mumps who do not have proof of vaccination will be excluded from campus for 26 days after the last possible date of exposure.
  • Anyone who experiences symptoms of mumps during spring break or while on travel should contact a health care provider in close proximity. Individuals are urged to document their symptoms closely, isolate themselves from roommates, friends and/or travel partners and avoid returning to the University for at least five days after the onset of symptoms. UHS also reminds travelers that Zika virus, Chikungunya and dengue fever remain active health concerns in tropical climates.

Since the first confirmed case of mumps was reported at University Park, UHS has been in close contact with both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Professionals have been in contact with those closely associated with the infected individuals and continue to monitor each situation carefully.

For additional information and mumps education, the following resources are available:

Last Updated April 13, 2017