A Comenian Guide to Navigating the Moravian Mumps


A poster that has been distributed informing students about the way to prevent the continued mumps outbreak.

It’s officially day 16 of the mumps outbreak on campus. 

Since it was first announced on September 19, the outbreak has been the talk of the student body and the concern of parents and professors alike. It has also been the butt of jokes from students, including everything from memes to student-made songs. Students have been interviewed by news stations, newspapers, and more about the outbreak and “mumpy” students. 

However, much misinformation has been circulating amongst the student body, and rumors and questions have spread like wildfire.

Here are all the facts in one place.

First of all, the source of the mumps outbreak on our campus is uncertain. Student rumors have suggested that Patient Zero was an anti-vaxxer who contracted the virus and then spread it to others in the school. The Health Center and the Bethlehem Health Bureau have looked into this issue.

“The rumors that an unvaccinated student was the source and was sick at the same time as others is not founded. Looking back at a timeline, the first week of school there was probably a party. The source of the virus was probably in attendance and may not have had any symptoms at the time, yet was contagious and infected our students,” she said. “The Bethlehem Health Bureau tries to determine such things as part of their investigation, but it is often not possible to pinpoint [the source].” 

So while it is possible that an anti-vaxxer or a visitor was the source of the virus outbreak, we can’t be sure.

Another rumor that persists is that there is a vast number of cases on campus. One rumor puts the number of cases as high as 40. As of October 3, however, the Health Center reports that the actual number is eight. Dillman has provided a link that students should continue to look at for an official count of cases, which can be viewed here. Dillman said that as new reports of confirmed mumps cases come in, she will post them on this page instead of sending an email to students.

One of the most discussed topics by students is the possibility that the school will close due to the mumps outbreak. At this time, however, no one is considering closing the school, nor is Moravian likely to close. 

Said Dillman, “I do not make decisions about the school closing. That is the responsibility of President Grigsby and his senior staff. I would offer my opinion and recommendations to President Grigsby, however. That said, Temple University had over 140 cases in spring 2019 and they never closed nor did they restrict any campus events. The College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., is also in the midst of a mumps outbreak and has not cancelled any classes or events.” 

Even so, one Moravian student has circulated an online petition, which has garnered over 400 signatures, asking that Moravian cancel classes due to the outbreak. Whether or not that the College administration has seen or considered this petition is unknown.

Now that the information about the outbreak is clear, what can we do to stop the problem?

Many students have been looking into getting a booster shot to prevent them from contracting the virus. But that may not be possible, as some primary care physicians won’t take students that are on campus due to the possibility that they may already carry the virus. 

Getting a booster is also not always advisable. Dillman recommends that students read the advisory issued by the Center for Disease Control.

“The following info is taken directly from the CDC website,” Dillman said. “‘During a mumps outbreak, public health authorities might recommend an additional dose of MMR vaccine for people who belong to groups at increased risk for getting mumps. These groups are usually those who are likely to have close contact, such as sharing sport[s] equipment or drinks, kissing, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps. Your local public health authorities or institution will notify you if you are at increased risk and should receive this dose. If you already have two doses of MMR [given at ages 1 and 4], it is not necessary to seek out vaccination unless the authorities tell you that you are part of this group.’”

Finally, the big question still remains: How will we know when this is all over?

In simple words, the answer is when no one continues to show symptoms. 

“As indicated in the CDC guidance and according to the Bethlehem Health Bureau, we will need to count 26 days from the last confirmed case on campus to consider our outbreak ‘over,’’’ Dillman said. “We will alert the campus community when that happens. The mumps virus incubates between 15-25 days. Again, using Temple as a comparison, it took over 3 months for their ‘outbreak’ to end.”

The mumps is still likely to be a topic of conversation for months to come, but the campus community should work not to spread it. 

The Health Center offers helpful advice in that regard: 

  • Do not share drinks with others.
  • Do not kiss anyone that is sick.
  • Cover your face/mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands.
  • If you are sick, please stay away from crowds and stay home if you are feverish.
  • If you are feeling sick come to the Health Center. They will test students for mumps at the Health Center if you present with corresponding symptoms. 
  • If you do not know if you are up to date on your immunizations, contact your primary care physician or you can reach out to the Health Center.  
  • If you are worried about a friend or roommate, call the Health Center for advice.
  • Be sure to contact the Health Center if you are diagnosed with mumps at a personal doctor or physician.

Health Center Contact Information: 250 W. Laurel Street (Hillside 5 H). Bethlehem, PA 18018. (610) 861-1567. [email protected]

Walk-In Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Afternoon visits by appointment.