Temple warns of mumps outbreak

Employee and Student Health Services reported on Monday that seven students tested positive for the infectious disease.

UPDATED at 6:05 on March 4

Student Health Services alerted the Temple University community that several students tested positive for mumps, a viral infection that impacts saliva-producing glands.

Seven students tested positive for the highly infectious disease and Student Health Services evaluated four others who it believes are also infected, wrote Mark Denys, the director of Employee and Student Health Services, in an email to the Temple community on Monday.

The university recommends those who never received a two-series measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination receive the vaccine, and for vaccinated students and staff to receive a third dose. The vaccine is available at Student Health Services, as well as most urgent care and primary care physicians, Denys wrote.

Students heading home for spring break were warned that if they are showing symptoms, they risk passing the disease onto their family and friends.

“The important thing to remember is that anyone who does have the symptoms should limit their contact with other people, avoid travel and self-isolate for five days from the onset of symptoms,” Denys wrote.

The mumps has no known treatment, Denys wrote, and infected people can only manage its symptoms with over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Advil. Generally healthy people usually have no serious health complications with the infection, but in extreme cases it could lead to hearing loss, brain inflammation, meningitis, pancreatitis and swollen testicles in male patients, according to Mayo Clinic.

Mumps was a common infectious disease before the vaccination was created and most outbreaks occur in close settings, like college campuses, according to Mayo Clinic. Doctors recommend two doses of the vaccine before children start school, the first when the child is 12 to 15 months old, and again between 4 and 6 years old. One dose is not effective enough to prevent contracting the infection.

There has been a recent increase in reported mumps cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 229 cases in 2012 versus 6,366 cases in 2016. There were 58 cases of the disease in January 2019.

Mumps presents with flu-like symptoms, including swollen glands near the ears and jawline, headache, fever and tends to set in 16 to 18 days after exposure to someone with mumps, Denys wrote. It is contagious for 12 to 25 days.

The university has been communicating with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which is conducting an investigation into the outbreak’s origin, Denys wrote. He encouraged students and staff experiencing symptoms to contact Student Health Services.

“The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is not testing anyone else, we are presuming that anyone else with the symptoms has the mumps,” Denys wrote. “We are also are assuming there are more people that we do not know about.”

How to prevent the spread of mumps
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; use your upper sleeve to cover your cough, not your hand.
  • Wash hands frequently and efficiently. When unable to wash with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks or participating in other activities that may result in saliva exposure.
  • Stay home from school or work when you are sick to rest and limit the spread of illness to others.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

UPDATE: This story was updated to reflect an increase in the number of students diagnosed with mumps and information about where to get a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

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