Penn State students are set to dance for a cure this weekend.
Some of them could use a cure of their own.
According to Penn State University Health Services, two cases of mumps have been confirmed at University Park.
Mumps is caused by a virus. It is highly infectious and spread by either direct contact or inhalation, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
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Symptoms can show up 16 to 18 days after infection. The defining symptom is “tender swollen glands below the ear or along the jawline on one or both sides of the face and neck,” a Penn State release said. Other symptoms include headache, fever, tiredness, aching and loss of appetite.
Mumps is routinely addressed with the MMR (measles, mumps and Rubella) vaccine at 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years. The MMR has been at the center of some questions raised about a relationship to autism after a British study was published in 1998. The medical journal The Lancet retracted that study as false in 2010, but the controversy has remained.
Penn State has advised all students, faculty and staff to check their medical histories for that vaccine and to visit a doctor or UHS to receive it if necessary.
“All students who have not already done so are advised to request a copy of their immunization information from their private healthcare provider to be faxed to University Health Services at 865-6982. During a mumps outbreak, anyone who does not have proof of vaccination may be excluded from campus until 25 days after the last possible date of infection,” according to the university.
That 25-day period will not elapse before Friday, when the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon kicks off. The largest student-run philanthropy in the world, Thon raises money for pediatric cancer and the event draws not only students but young cancer patients and their families. Cancer patients often have compromised immune systems.
“With Thon fast approaching, anyone who develops mumps symptoms is strongly discouraged from attending Thon activities and should contact University Health Services at 863-4463,” Penn State’s release said.
This is not the first time an infectious disease has complicated things for Thon.
In 2015, a chicken pox exposure at a Nittany Lion basketball game two weeks before the event meant some students and families alike had to miss the fun.