As the nation grapples with a measles outbreak, the number of mumps cases at Indiana University has more than doubled since last week, school officials said, with similar outbreaks occurring at Temple University and Penn State University.
As of Thursday morning, there are 17 mumps cases at the Bloomington campus, up from seven last week. More than half of the cases have been linked to a single fraternity, which is where the disease is believed to have originated back in February, a school official said.
“We feel confident about where a lot of this is coming from which has helped us deal with it,” university spokesman Chuck Carney told HuffPost. “It’s not sweeping broadly around the campus.”
The university’s students are required to have two MMR vaccines ― for measles, mumps and rubella ― by their second semester at the school. There is an exemption for religious reasons.
Of the 16 cases known on Wednesday, Carney said 14 of them had received two doses of the MMR vaccine. One of them had received just one dose, and the other had not had one because of a religious exemption.
A health clinic was recently held at the fraternity where the outbreak is believed to have originated and 58 percent of its members received a third MMR vaccine during it, Carney said.
“What that does is it provides them with a boost of immunity for about a month so it helps them stave off the illness if they are exposed,” he said.
The university is working to inform students about the disease’s spread and things they can do to avoid infection, which Carney said is “simply practicing good hygiene.” That includes washing hands frequently, not sharing drinks and sneezing in the crook of one’s arm and not their hands.
“The basic things that you would do to avoid any illness,” he said.
Temple University in Philadelphia had been dealing with a similar outbreak. Last week there had been 146 cases of mumps among both Temple students and people outside of the school, the city’s Department of Public Health had said.
The university on Tuesday said that the number of active cases at the school is now fewer than 10. During the outbreak’s peak in early March, there were 46 cases at the school, according to the university, which said it had issued more than 6,000 doses of the MMR vaccine.
Penn State University has also been dealing with several mumps cases.
Since the start of April, the University Park school said in a release last week that there have been three mumps cases confirmed and two more suspected. Those numbers were current as of Thursday, a university spokesperson told HuffPost in an email. Local station WJAC-TV reported that the state’s Department of Health considers this an outbreak.
Mumps spreads by direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose or throat. This can happen from an infected person sneezing, coughing, talking, kissing or by sharing cups, water bottles or eating utensils. It can also spread from touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands and then someone else touching it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“An infected person can likely spread mumps from a few days before their salivary glands begin to swell to up to five days after the swelling begins,” the CDC’s website states. “A person with mumps should limit their contact with others during this time. For example, stay home from school and do not attend social events.”
Health officials have urged the public to receive the MMR vaccine. Some people who are vaccinated can still contract mumps if exposed, but its symptoms will be milder, the CDC said.