Updated on March 19 at 1:10 p.m.
For most, attending a university with a mumps outbreak means running the risk of getting flu-like symptoms, taking over-the-counter medicine and staying in isolation for a few days.
For other students, the outbreak can be severely disruptive. It could impact their families, their recovery from autoimmune disorders or their treatments for cystic fibrosis.
Temple University is experiencing a mumps outbreak that reached 54 Temple-related cases on Monday. Since the university announced the outbreak on Feb. 28, there have been 12 confirmed cases and 42 probable cases of the mumps.
The mumps is a highly contagious viral disease that can be transmitted via the nose, mouth and throat. Symptoms include swelling of the face and jaw, fever and body pains. The incubation period is 12-25 days, and symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after exposure.
Someone with mumps is considered contagious two days before their face swells, through five days after, according to a university release. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people who have swelling not to go to work, school or social events during this period of time.
Bridie Anne MacCrory, a junior marketing major, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder after she broke her foot six months ago. Her foot hasn’t healed, in part due to the disorder.
MacCrory is susceptible to getting the mumps and had to get the third mumps, measles and rubella vaccine last week — the same week she was supposed to start injection treatment for her autoimmune disorder. She was not allowed to immediately begin her treatment after receiving the booster vaccine.
“I can’t start my medication and get all of this under control, which I’ve been dealing with for almost six months,” she said, adding that there aren’t other ways to treat the disorder other than these injections.
“People who are immunosuppressed or have autoimmune diseases are experiencing a lot of pain most times and are on medications like the one I would be taking. So take others into account and be accountable for your actions,” she added. “Many people are scared even when they don’t have an autoimmune disorder, so you can only imagine what it feels like to have one.”
Caley Gowen is a junior nursing major with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes lung infections and limits a person’s ability to breathe, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Gowen has spent the last week in the hospital treating a respiratory infection, and this is her first week back on campus since the outbreak began last month.
While getting the mumps may not affect Gowen more than it would any other student, she said, it’s the symptoms — loss of appetite and fevers — that could set back her recovery from the respiratory infection, which she is treating with IV antibiotics in her residence hall.
Gowen also has to do 30-minute breathing treatments each day to help clear her lungs.
“If you are not vaccinated, I would say to get vaccinated against [the mumps],” she said. “Even if in your life you feel like the mumps wouldn’t be a very big deal, there are people who, a virus like this, could cause a lot of complications.”
People who receive two doses of the MMR vaccine are about nine times less likely to get mumps than those who haven’t gotten the vaccine, the CDC states. But if a person has had prolonged contact with someone with the mumps, they could get the disease, even if they’re vaccinated.
Most of the students diagnosed with the mumps since the outbreak was announced had received two MMR vaccines. Those who are vaccinated will likely have a less severe case of the mumps than people who are not, according to the CDC.
Temple Student and Employee Health Services has administered 173 doses of the MMR vaccine since Feb. 25, a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Temple News on Monday.
To avoid getting the mumps, Gowen said she will practice good hand-washing hygiene and avoid sitting next to people in class who seem sick.
“My biggest request for other students is if they feel sick, and they feel like they might have the mumps or even the flu…stay home from class, because you’re contagious and you could be putting other people at risk,” she said.
“Those people are on campus, and we are students,” Gowen added. “It’s not only you that you need to concerned about during an outbreak like this.”
If experiencing symptoms, students should contact Student Health Services. The most important thing to do is self-isolate and avoid contact with others for five days from when symptoms start, according to a university release.
Amanda Cintron, a senior speech pathology major, is vaccinated for mumps, but received the MMR booster as a precaution last week because she has a 9-month-old baby, who is also vaccinated.
“It’s all of our responsibility to protect ourselves and make sure that we’re not spreading it and also make sure that people who don’t have the privilege to…just lock themselves in their dorm with some tissues and Netflix are protected too” she said.
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