The Pennsylvania Department of Health has launched an investigation into several reported cases of mumps on the Penn State University Park campus.
According to a Friday news release, the department is working with University Health Services to investigate both confirmed cases and additional potential cases. Nineteen suspected, probable or confirmed cases have been investigated since Jan. 29, Penn State said Thursday, with four cases confirmed by lab tests.
Two cases of mumps were reported Feb. 13, shortly before the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, the CDT reported. Students who developed symptoms were “strongly discouraged” from attending Thon.
“In light of these confirmed mumps cases, and with spring break fast approaching, it is very important for PSU students to avoid sharing food and drinks with others and to monitor their overall health,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “Students who have been diagnosed with mumps or are experiencing symptoms of the virus should check with PSU Health Services before returning to the State College campus.”
Murphy also encouraged all students and visitors to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.
“The Wolf administration is committed to protecting the health of Pennsylvanians, and reminds individuals of all ages of the importance of getting recommended vaccinations,” she said.
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.