Mumps Outbreak at Temple University
March 15, 2019
Within the last week the number went from 7, then to 11, and now up to 16 total cases of mumps on Temple University’s campus. Mumps is just one of many preventable viral diseases; with a two-dose vaccine approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) individuals are nearly 90% protected against the virus (along with measles and rubella). Though mumps usually runs its course within a few weeks, the outbreak on Temple’s campus serves as a sobering reminder of how important it is to stay up-to-date on critical vaccinations.
General Info on Mumps
According to the CDC, mumps is a contagious viral infection typically marked by puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Some other common symptoms of mumps can include:
- Muscle aches;
- Loss of appetite;
- Tiredness, and:
- Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides, also known as parotitis
Although most people recover from mumps within a few weeks and without any drastic medical intervention, some suffer more extreme health complications. In rare cases people experience inflammation of the brain (or encephalitis), meningitis, deafness, inflammation of the breast tissue and/or ovaries, inflammation of the testicles, and/or sterility (in males).
Mumps spreads through saliva or mucus from the nose, mouth, and throat. In heavily populated places – such as a college campus – transmission can be rapid. Some examples of how infected people spread mumps to uninfected individuals include:
- Coughing, talking, or sneezing;
- Touching objects or surfaced with unwashed hands, and:
- Sharing items, like utensils or cups
The MMR and MMRV Vaccines
The CDC recommends that children get the first dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine between 12 and 15-months-old, followed by the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6. After the first dose the vaccine is approximately 78% effective at guarding against the three viruses – after the second shot, it is 88% effective.
Children can also get the MMRV vaccine, which protects against mumps, measles, rubella, and varicella, which is more commonly known as chickenpox. The MMRV vaccine is specifically for use in children between 1 and 12 years of age. To read more general information on vaccines from the CDC, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/vaccination.html. If you have questions regarding you or your child’s vaccination status, please consult directly with a primary care physician.
The Outbreak at Temple – and Beyond
Since beginning the mumps vaccination program in 1967, cases in the United States have dropped by 99%. With safe and effective vaccinations available, there is no reason for outbreaks like the one on Temple’s campus to happen. Even more frightening is that officials now believe the infection has spread beyond the campus, with two suspected cases in the bordering area Montgomery County. Because it can take a few days for symptoms to present, some people with the virus may not know they are infected.
To decrease chances for transmission, people should be sure to wash their hands with soap and water, avoid sharing food, drinks, and utensils, and to always sneeze or cough into a tissue or into their elbow. The most effective way to avoid preventable diseases like the mumps is to get vaccinated. If you think you may have mumps or another kind of viral infection, it is advisable to make an appointment with your healthcare professional.
We will keep our readers up to date as the story on Temple’s campus continues to develop. If you have questions or concerns about the outbreak, please contact our firm directly.
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