FAQ: Mumps cases among students


What is mumps?
Mumps is a highly infectious viral 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 of mumps are similar to those of 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 this semester at Temple University?
From the start of the spring semester through Feb. 20, there have been three cases diagnosed at Temple. The three students are no longer contagious. Student Health Services is not currently aware of any students who have the mumps and are contagious.  

Do these cases mean the spread of mumps last year was not adequately controlled?
During last year’s outbreak, Student and Employee Health Services worked closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to stop the spread of mumps by helping students who were sick to self-isolate on campus. This measure helped to reduce the spread of the virus.

The typical seasonal pattern of mumps is similar to that of the flu, and cases of the virus often peak in the winter and early spring months. Mumps cases have been increasing in the United States over the past 15 years. The average number of cases per year over the past five years is 3,905, according to the CDC. 

If someone shows symptoms, how do they treat the mumps?
Management of mumps is similar to that of flu. There is no treatment to eliminate the virus, only to relieve 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 smartphones. 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, or 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. 

How can I get the MMR vaccine?
You can contact your primary care provider’s office or pharmacy to get the MMR vaccine. If you have health insurance, you can get the vaccine from a pharmacy without a prescription. The following pharmacies near campus have the vaccine available.

  • Rite Aid: 2131-59 N. Broad St., 215-236-2297
  • Rite Aid: 1528 N. Broad St., 215-765-9332
  • CVS: 1717 N. 12th St., Unit F (at Cecil B. Moore Avenue), 215-235-2001

If you do not have health insurance, Spectrum Health (1415 N. Broad St., Suite 224, 215-471-2761) can provide the vaccine at a cost based on a sliding scale according to ability to pay. Philadelphia health centers can also provide the vaccine for those who are uninsured. See a list of health centers.
If you are a student or employee covered by Temple’s health plan and have a PPO plan, you can receive the vaccine at Student and Employee Health Services. If you are covered by Temple’s health plan and have an HMO plan, you must obtain a valid referral from your primary care physician to receive the vaccine. 

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.  

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 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 future contraction of mumps and boost individual immunity to the disease. Even if you get mumps, the booster can help reduce severity of the symptoms. 


Does the university require the mumps vaccine for enrollment?
For students attending Temple University starting in the fall of 2019, the university’s updated immunization policy required the following:

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine;
  • Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine; 
  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine; and
  • Meningitis vaccine.

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

Is the disease spreading as a result of people having not been vaccinated?
Last year’s experience taught us that the majority of the confirmed mumps cases at Temple involve members of the university community who previously had received the MMR vaccine. Mumps cases among vaccinated people are more common in close-contact settings like university campuses, but vaccination coverage—including booster doses for those who have come into contact with someone sick with mumps—reduces the size and duration of outbreaks. 


How is the university responding?
Many of the steps taken during last year’s outbreak proved valuable to the community and are being renewed. For example, the university has maintained daily contact with officials from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. City officials were very helpful last year and have once again offered their assistance in monitoring the situation and evaluating next steps. 

Also, the university has an information campaign advising students, faculty and staff on how to keep themselves healthy and where to go for the MMR vaccine; continues to treat anyone who presents symptoms; and continues to identify individuals who have been in close contact with symptomatic individuals and contact them to recommend that they receive the MMR vaccine.

Where can I find more information?
For additional information, please review the following resources.

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.