Penn State University Health Services has confirmed four cases of mumps among students at University Park.
The first two students were infected before returning to campus for the start of the spring semester, according to a university news release. All four were isolated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols.
Each has recovered and is no longer considered infectious. Those who came into contact with the infected students have been notified and are monitoring for symptoms.
Last year, University Park experienced a mumps outbreak with more than 50 probable or confirmed cases during the spring 2017 semester. A highly infectious disease, mumps is spread through saliva and respiratory secretions. People are considered contagious from two days before until five days after symptoms begin.
"While the incubation period is 12-25 days, symptoms often appear 16-18 days after exposure and often include tender swollen glands below the ear and along the jawline on one or both sides of the face and neck, headache, fever and cold-like symptoms," according to the university.
Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine generally provide immunity from the mumps, but it does not guarantee protection. Last month, the CDC published guidelines recommending a third dose for people with an increased risk of contracting mumps during an outbreak, including those in "prolonged close-contact settings like college and university campuses."
Immunity from the vaccines also may begin to lessen by the time people reach college age.
With THON approaching this weekend, Penn State is discouraging anyone with mumps symptoms from attending THON activities.
University Health Services advises that individuals cover their mouths with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing; wash hands frequently with soap and water or using hand sanitizer; avoid sharing food and drinks; and stay home from school or work when sick.
Students, faculty and staff are urged to confirm with their health care providers that they have received the two doses of the MMR vaccine, and if not, schedule an appointment to get it.
Penn State also requires that students provide immunization records to UHS.
"All students who have not already done so are urged to request a copy of their immunization information from their private healthcare provider to be faxed to University Health Services at 814-865-6982," the university news release stated. "During a mumps outbreak, anyone who does not have proof of vaccination may be excluded from campus for 25 days after the last possible date of infection."
In the fall, the university prevented students who had not provided required immunization information from registering for spring semester classes until they had done so.