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Credit: Jess Tan

A mumps outbreak at Temple University has sickened 86 students since late February, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

As of March 21, the Philadelphia Health Department has confirmed 16 cases of mumps at Temple and declared 70 cases probable. To reduce the risk of the outbreak worsening, Temple will host two free clinics to administer the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to students, faculty, and staff. Temple is also updating its immunization protocols to require students to be vaccinated before enrolling, the Inquirer reported.

Mumps is a contagious viral disease which is usually spread through saliva, such as sharing food or drinks. Symptoms can include fevers, headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands.The disease is preventable by the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, which is 88 percent effective when two doses are given. The CDC recommends that during an outbreak, people who are at increased risk for getting mumps receive a third dose of the vaccine.

Temple's free vaccination clinics will be held throughout the day on Wednesday, March 27 and Friday, March 29, the Inquirer reported.  

"We are encouraging those who have had the two MMR vaccines to get the booster," Ray Betzner, Temple's associate vice president for strategic marketing and communications, told CNN

CNN reported that a group of Temple students filed a petition for classes to be cancelled until the outbreak wanes, gaining over 10,000 signatures. However, university officials said they are not considering this, as health department officials said it would not help the outbreak. 

In recent days, the mumps outbreak has also been spreading throughout Philadelphia. On Friday, Drexel University announced that a graduate student who lives off campus had contracted the disease, CBS Philly reported. A possible case has also been identified at Abington Senior High School in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. 

Mumps are a continued concern on colleges campuses, where close living conditions make it easier for viruses to spread. When a 2006 mumps outbreak spread to Pennsylvania, Penn considered similar updates to the University's immunization protocols. Currently, Penn requires all full-time students to have received two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. 

2016 saw a surge of mumps outbreaks at peer institutions, including Harvard and Yale. Penn has not had an outbreak in recent years.   

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