Health Officials Fear Mumps Outbreak is Spreading in Pennsylvania

At least 17 students have mumps at Temple University in Pennsylvania – and the outbreak is spreading beyond the campus, health officials warn.

One of the affected patients is a part-time student who went home to nearby Montgomery County and infected another person, officials say.

Outbreaks are particularly common among older teenagers since the MMR vaccine’s effects fade over time.

While the disease’s flu-like symptoms tend to fade within 10 days, there is no cure or treatment.

Health officials are now urging anyone who has come into contact with one of those affected to visit their doctor and take precautions to prevent further spread.

Mumps is a virus of the salivary gland.

It is spread through saliva, commonly on glasses, plates and cutlery.

Some people do not experience any symptoms.

Typically, symptoms include puffy cheeks, swollen glands, headaches, a fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and a lack of appetite.

Sufferers have described feeling pain in their stomach, neck, pelvis, and testicles.

The infection can lead to devastating health concerns in adults, such as hearing loss, infertility and brain swelling.

The rate of infection plummeted down to a couple of hundred a year by the 1980s and continued that way until around 2010.

But in 2017, the CDC recorded more than 6,000 mumps infections, particularly driven by clusters of outbreaks, many of which are on college campuses and sports teams.

Experts warn that this is driven by a few key factors.

First, immunity wanes over time, and most people get their second MMR dose before the age of six, which is a long time ago for students reaching college.

Second, the higher-than-usual exchange of bodily fluids through drinks or contact among close-knit groups such as students and athletes.

Third, a waning sense of urgency to vaccinate children against the now-distant threat of mumps which plagued baby boomers and the silent generation weakening our ‘herd immunity’.

The CDC advises children get two doses of the MMR vaccine – their first at around one year old, and their second between four and six years old – which gives a child about 88 percent protection against mumps, measles and rubella.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, by Mia De Graaf