Mumps, Measles Outbreaks Concern Students

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- There are significant mumps and measles outbreaks across the United States, and two of those outbreaks are not far from our area. There is a measles outbreak in New York State and a mumps outbreak right here in Pennsylvania at Temple University, a school many from northeastern and central Pennsylvania attend.

There are now 105 reported cases of mumps in the state, most on the campus of Temple University in north Philadelphia. 18 of those cases are confirmed. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, a majority of these students have had their vaccinations.

That had many students lining up at Temple to get a booster shot.

What's happening on Temple's campus also has students at Wilkes University talking.

"It's been a big thing with college students. College students have to get so many, especially living in the dorms and stuff, so there's been lots of talk about it," said Wilkes senior Peter Sidari.

It's a measles outbreak in one New York county. There are 153 confirmed cases in Rockland County. Most of these cases involve people who aren't vaccinated. Anyone unvaccinated under the age of 18 is now banned from public places like schools and grocery stores.

"I'm not sure how they would do that. How would you flag a child that hasn't had it? I would think that you would have to review all their health records," said Wilkes nursing professor Susan Malkemes.

"It's scary because it is so close. It's a preventable illness through vaccination," said Wilkes senior Danielle Hickok.

The mumps and the measles can be prevented in the same vaccination -- the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, or MMR.

The outbreaks in both Pennsylvania and New York have students at Wilkes realizing that the younger generation may not know the symptoms of these illnesses.

"It was such a low incidence that it was something briefly discussed in schooling and stuff like that. Now, it's something we see more often, we're going to have to address more in the curriculum."

Health officials say the signs of measles could be flu-like symptoms, including a fever, cough, runny nose, or red and watery eyes, then a few days later a rash.

In mumps, one of the major signs is swollen and tender salivary glands, which are located below the jaw.

Both illnesses are airborne.

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