Students most concerned about hand, foot and mouth disease despite Allentown measles outbreak

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Allentown sources notified residents of a measles outbreak in the area.

The exposure period is believed to have taken place between Oct. 7 and Oct. 12, according to The Morning Call.

The case was the first Lehigh Valley Health Network has received in over two decades. Although measles is rare, Pennsylvania has already seen 16 cases in 2019.

Measles is a highly contagious disease. However, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) strongly protects against it. The vaccine is not required, but is strongly recommended by doctors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles infects the respiratory tract and can move into the rest of the body. 

The disease is dangerous because there is no specific treatment proven to cure patients. 

The Lehigh Health and Wellness Center is in close contact with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, allowing it to receive current health information in the area so it may provide better information and potential treatment to students.

The Health and Wellness Center was aware of the measles case in Allentown, so its staff has cautiously examined patients to make sure they do not have the disease. No measles diagnoses have been reported on Lehigh’s campus. 

Students are strongly encouraged to receive two MMR vaccines before enrolling at Lehigh. According to the Health and Wellness Center, students who sign the waiver saying they have not completed the encouraged vaccinations may be required to leave campus in the event that contagious diseases are present. 

In the event that measles inhabit the Lehigh community, “the Health and Wellness Center will work closely with the Bethlehem Health Bureau and will follow the BHB recommendations to quarantine the case and identify contacts who may be at risk of acquiring the infection,” David Rubenstein, executive director of the Health and Wellness Center, said in an email. 

Although the recent case of measles in Allentown has no connection to Lehigh, two cases of mumps have been reported on campus this academic year. In addition to mumps, cases of hand, foot and mouth disease were reported by the Health and Wellness Center Oct. 31.

Hannah Matthews, ‘23, said “the diseases feel far away and don’t really feel real.” 

While she reads the notification emails from the Health and Wellness Center, Matthews said the cases of mumps in the beginning of the year did not concern her because she was vaccinated. However, the knowledge that hand, foot and mouth disease was on campus concerned Matthews because there is no current vaccination to protect against the disease.  

Sakshi Acharya, ‘22,  said she is not worried about mumps because she is vaccinated. However, she said she is concerned about hand, foot and mouth disease. Acharya knows how contagious hand, foot and mouth disease can be because she was on campus when many students were infected last year. 

“Students were usually nice enough to warn people on their hall,” Acharya said.

Kwaku Oteng, ‘23, said he wasn’t worried about mumps or hand, foot and mouth disease on campus. 

“They were reported early, so I didn’t feel like I would be affected,” Oteng said. 

With the cases of diseases on campus, the Health and Wellness Center is trying to treat them as soon as possible and keep the community informed through emails and updates.

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