Penn State

Mumps cases at Penn State increasing ahead of Blue-White Game

What is mumps and how does it spread?

Although vaccines have nearly eliminated this once common childhood disease in the U.S., mumps - painful swelling of glands - is still a concern throughout much of the undeveloped world, and has had several recent outbreaks stateside.
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Although vaccines have nearly eliminated this once common childhood disease in the U.S., mumps - painful swelling of glands - is still a concern throughout much of the undeveloped world, and has had several recent outbreaks stateside.

With the Blue-White Game this weekend, Penn State University Health Services is advising students to closely monitor their health and avoid high-risk activities as a third mumps case was confirmed, the university announced Thursday.

This marks the third case at University Park since the start of April, and two more cases are suspected, UHS said in a release.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of mumps — including swollen glands, headache, fever, and cold-like symptoms — or anyone who has been in close contact with someone with mumps is encouraged by Penn State to stay home this weekend and not attend large social events.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that can be spread through saliva and respiratory secretions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Penn State is encouraging students to avoid sharing food and drinks or engaging in activities where the virus can be spread through saliva exposure.

“UHS is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to monitor the situation,” the release said. “Close contacts of mumps cases are being identified and recommended to receive a third dose of the MMR vaccine.”

Penn State does require all undergraduate and graduate students to be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella. Students are required to have two doses of the mumps vaccine, or bloodwork showing immunity due to a previous mumps infection. Those who don’t may be excluded from campus for up to 26 days, the university said.

“Most of the recent mumps cases nationally are in students who received the CDC-recommended two doses of MMR vaccine,” Penn State said in a release. “While two doses of MMR vaccine typically provide adequate immunity to the infection, the vaccination does not guarantee protection.”

The mumps component of the MMR vaccine is about 88 percent effective when a person receives two doses, according to the CDC. The CDC published recommendations in 2018 for a third dose to be administered to people at a higher risk for the disease, such as those in a close-contact setting, like a college campus.

That the vaccine-induced immunity to MMR starts wear off by the time people reach college age is another reason students are more susceptible to the disease, UHS said.

While there is no treatment for mumps, UHS is encouraging anyone with symptoms to rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter medication to ease the symptoms. They are also urged to stay at home and isolate themselves for five days after the onset of symptoms, and avoid sharing food or drink.

Students who have developed mumps symptoms have been isolated in accordance with CDC and state Department of Health recommendations and protocols, the release said. The university is advising students who have been in close contact with any confirmed or probable mumps cases to get a third does of the MMR vaccine.

“Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be excluded from campus, in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading,” the release said.

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