FAQ: Temple University mumps outbreak

Updated May 3, 2019


What is the mumps?
Mumps is a highly infectious disease passed through saliva and respiratory secretions. While the incubation period is 12 to 25 days, symptoms often appear 16 to 18 days after exposure.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms for the mumps are similar to influenza (the flu) 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. People with mumps are considered infectious from two days before swelling begins through five days after the start of swelling.

How is the disease spread?
It is spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets, and generally, people are most contagious about one to two days before their salivary glands become swollen and painful. It’s most contagious during that flu-like period before the salivary gland swelling. 

How many mumps cases have occurred since the outbreak at Temple University began?
As of May 3, 171 cases of mumps have been diagnosed among both Temple students and people outside Temple.

If someone shows symptoms, how do they treat the mumps?
Management for mumps is similar to that of flu. There is no treatment, only relief of symptoms. Take Motrin or Tylenol for fever and swelling, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. One of the most important steps you can take if you experience symptoms is to self-isolate, avoid travel and limit contact with others for five days from the onset of symptoms. For healthy people, there is very little risk of serious complications from the mumps. 

How can someone prevent contracting the mumps?
Avoid close contact with individuals who present symptoms. Wash hands frequently and efficiently. When unable to wash with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid sharing food and drinks or participating in other activities that may result in saliva exposure. Avoid sharing devices like smart phones. Arrange for delivery of food and groceries.

Those who are showing symptoms are encouraged to cover their mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; use an upper sleeve to cover a cough, not one’s hand. Most importantly, those with mumps symptoms should stay home from school or work to rest and limit the spread of illness to others. 


What are the university’s official recommendations?
If you have had close contact with someone symptomatic with the mumps and have never received the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, the recommendation is to receive the full two-dose MMR series.

If you have had close contact with someone symptomatic with the mumps and have previously received the MMR vaccine, the recommendation is to receive a third booster dose of the vaccine. The third booster dose is not recommended unless you have had close contact with a symptomatic person. 

If you are immunocompromised or pregnant, please contact your doctor immediately.

How much does the vaccine cost and where is it available?
Temple Student and Employee Health Services offered two walk-in clinics March 27 and March 29 at which the MMR vaccine was available at no charge. The clinics, offered in conjunction with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, administered 4,819 doses of the vaccine. 

Anyone who could not attend the clinic is encouraged to call Temple Student and Employee Health Services to arrange an appointment to receive the vaccine at no charge. 

Is the MMR vaccine you receive as a first or second dose different from the booster?
No, it is the same exact vaccine, it is just called a booster because you’ve already had previous doses.  

Is the university refunding students and employees who paid for the vaccine?
Yes. Students or employees who previously paid for the vaccine at Temple Student and Employee Health Services are being notified and refunds will be made.

Do you need to receive the vaccine again if you’ve previously received it?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites an 88 percent effectiveness rate for individuals who previously received two doses of the MMR vaccine. A range of effectiveness, anywhere from 66 to 95 percent, exists within that figure and is subject to fluctuation based upon multiple criteria. Additionally, the effectiveness of the vaccine is shown to diminish over time.

According to the CDC, it is safe to receive a third dose of the vaccine to prevent against future contraction of mumps and boost individual immunity to the disease.


Does the university require the mumps vaccine for enrollment?
Temple University is updating its immunization policy for prematriculation to require the following:

  • two doses—Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine;
  • two doses—Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine; and
  • one dose within 10 years—Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

The policy is still under development. The goal is to draft the policy over the summer for rollout next academic year. The university fully expects the policy to be in accordance with best practices and applicable law. And accordingly, the university expects avenues for appropriate opt-out that will be spelled out when the policy is final. 

An online petition is encouraging the temporary closure of Temple University. Why isn’t the university closing?
No conversations regarding university closure have taken place. Additionally, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health does not recommend closing the university, as the department believes such a measure will not stop the ongoing spread of mumps. 

Since it takes weeks for symptoms to develop, people who were exposed and present symptoms will still be able to spread the disease following an extended university closure. The best measure for preventing the spread of mumps is for symptomatic individuals to self-isolate for five days. 

Is the university safe to visit? Should I still attend Temple?
Yes, it is safe to visit campus. The mumps is spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets. Casual contact, such as visiting campus, offers minimal risk.  

Have any particular groups been affected the most by this outbreak?
The university has no knowledge of any particular organizations, social groups, or athletic teams particularly affected by mumps during this outbreak.

Is the disease spreading as a result of people who have not been vaccinated?
According to Temple Student and Employee Health Services, the majority of the confirmed mumps cases at Temple involve members of the university community who previously had received the MMR vaccine.

Can university housing accommodate a room switch, to prevent close contact with a symptomatic person?
Yes. Students in residence halls who are concerned about contracting mumps from a symptomatic roommate or suitemate are encouraged to speak with the director of their residence hall regarding elective, temporary relocation. While availability is limited, we will consider temporary relocation on a case-by-case basis. 


How is the university responding to this outbreak?
Within hours of Temple’s first confirmed cases of mumps, the university distributed a message to the campus community to educate students, faculty, and staff on the signs and symptoms of mumps, treatment recommendations, vaccine availability, and more. Weekly updates have been emailed since. 

In addition to the measure outlined above, the university has since maintained daily contact with officials from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. We have also been in touch with infectious disease experts and leadership at other universities were similar mumps outbreaks have taken place. 

Also, the university continues to update and educate the campus community; treat anyone who presents symptoms; and identify individuals who have been in close contact with symptomatic individuals and recommend they receive the MMR vaccine.

Where can I find more information?
More information is available within the university’s four messages distributed to the campus community, sent Feb. 28, March 4, March 13March 21 and March 29. Additional updates will be provided periodically.

For additional information, please review the following resources.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mumps: Questions and Answers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mumps Information

Also, Temple students (215-204-7500) and employees (215-204-2679) are encouraged to call Temple Student and Employee Health Services with additional questions or comments.