After Philly Outbreak, Mumps Emerges at Swat

Two days after informing the campus community that a student had symptoms of mumps, Director of Health & Wellness Services Alice Holland confirmed that the student did in fact have the disease on April 19.

“Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness that is transmitted by respiratory droplets or saliva. In the past two months, more than 100 cases have been detected at colleges, universities, and high schools in the Philadelphia area,” Holland wrote in an email to students.

“The case last week was classified by The Department of Health as suspected mumps. The Pennsylvania Department of Health assisted in identifying close contacts. The immunization status of close contacts was reviewed and appropriate action taken.”

Worth has been working with the Department of Health continuously on the matter.

“My colleagues and I in the College’s Health and Wellness Center work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Detection in risk surveillance and response when a student presents with symptoms that may be consistent with mumps. Our concern is the health and safety of the student exhibiting symptoms and the campus community.”

According to Holland, the student is doing well.

In her email to students, Holland listed the signs and symptoms of mumps. These include headache, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and eventually swollen salivary glands near the ears and jawline.

“Symptoms can appear [twelve] to 25 days after exposure. People with mumps are considered infectious from two days before swelling begins through five days after the start of swelling,” she said.

“Mumps is usually self-limited and most individuals recover completely within a few weeks.” she said. Treatment would involve mainly “supportive care,” wherein healthcare providers would alleviate symptoms and wait for the disease to run its course.

Higher rates of vaccination against mumps contribute to herd immunity against it, according to Holland.

“Mumps outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated communities, particularly in close-contact settings such as colleges. High vaccination coverage helps to limit the size, duration, and spread of outbreaks. Pennsylvania State requires students complete two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine,” she said.

Holland offered advice to students for preventing the spread of mumps. Flu prevention practices are similar to mumps prevention practices consist of covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, washing one’s hands often, avoiding sexual contact and utensil sharing with sick individuals, and staying home when sick.

“Students who experience symptoms of mumps or have concerns should contact the Health and Wellness Center at 610-328-8058 or the after-hours on-call nurse at 610-328-8548,” she said.

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