Temple University reports 93 cases related to mumps outbreak

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Friday, March 22, 2019
Number of confirmed, suspected mumps cases top 100 in Delaware Valley
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Number of confirmed, suspected mumps cases top 100 in Delaware Valley. John Rawlins reports during Action News at 4pm on March 22, 2019.

ABINGTON, Pa. (WPVI) -- Temple University said there are now 93 cases associated with the mumps outbreak, with 16 confirmed cases and 77 probable cases.

A total of 88 are in Philadelphia, while the other five are from surrounding counties, officials said.

Even before Friday's new numbers were released, Temple students were telling Action News they were seriously considering lining up for the free vaccinations the university plans to offer next week.

Vincent Borrelli of Allentown said, "A girl in our building on the second floor has the mumps and she is confirmed with it. It is like in the building, so that is why I am definitely thinking about getting a booster."

The virus can spread thru sneezes, shared items, even touching some surface.

Student Garlie St-Cyr plans to get the shot. She lives in one of the Temples older dorms. She said, "you know we have communal bathrooms." She added, " I looked it up and you can get mumps from contaminated surfaces."

Also Friday, Drexel University confirmed it is the latest educational institution in our region to report a suspected case of mumps.

In a statement, Drexel said the school is monitoring one case involving a graduate student who lives off-campus. The student was vaccinated, and Drexel notes that the vaccination is a requirement for all students.

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health reports 20 suspect cases, including several from Temple Ambler.

There is also one confirmed case in Chester County.

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health says there is a suspected case of mumps at North Wales Elementary School and another at Abington Senior High School. None of the cases in the county are confirmed at this time.

Dr. Richard Lorraine, the Montgomery County Medical Director, said they are waiting for lab results.

"Individual testing is being done. Some of it is being done through private health care providers and that sometimes will take up to a week to confirm. So when we have a case that's reported to us as suspect, we do contact the school, we do provide some guidance," Lorraine said.

A letter from Abington High Senior School principal Angelo D. Berrios was addressed to parents on Thursday saying officials were "investigating a student at the Abington Senior High School with a suspected case of mumps."

The letter stated a child showing symptoms should be excluded from group settings for at least five days. The principal also asked parents to confirm their child is age-appropriately vaccinated.

One student said to Action News, "I'm a little nervous. I'm not going to lie. But I got my shot so I think I got a pretty good chance of not getting it."

Mumps is viral. Symptoms include fever, swelling, and tenderness in salivary glands. It's transmitted through saliva or mucus, and you can be contagious before showing symptoms.

Some students will take extra precautions.

An Abington High School student said, "I'm not going to be touching the stairwells and stuff."

Judy Bomze, the Director of Student Services for Abington School District, released the following statement Friday:

"Yesterday, the Montgomery County Department of Health alerted school officials to a suspected case of mumps at Abington Senior High School. As a precaution, we sent a letter home to parents and guardians of Senior High students, along with more information about symptoms and treatment. We advise parents and guardians to contact the Montgomery County Office of Public Health at 610-278-5117 if they have any questions or concerns."

The news at Abington and North Wales comes as the number of mumps infections at Temple University grows.

An off-campus student from West Chester University who recently visited Temple contracted mumps and has been directed not to attend classes and to remain in isolation.

Temple has told students if they believe they are sick to not attend classes and remain in isolation.

Temple will hold vaccination clinics next week to prevent future cases. The university will offer free MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine to all Temple students, faculty, and staff on Wednesday, March 27, and Friday, March 29, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A person with two doses of the vaccine has about an 88% reduction in risk, but the risk isn't erased, especially with the close quarters of college living.

Doctors say if you are vaccinated and still get the mumps, you are less likely to have severe symptoms and to develop complications.