Harvard Mumps Outbreak Continues to Worsen

The latest count is up to 40, reportedly threatening graduation and other events.

Photo by Olga Khvan

Photo by Olga Khvan

On March 1, when Harvard first confirmed that two of its students were sick with mumps, it looked to be a relatively minor outbreak. Nearly two months later, however, the university is still struggling with the viral infection, more now than ever.

At least 40 members of the Harvard community are reportedly sick with mumps, as of last count. To slow the contagious disease’s spread, the university has been placing sufferers in the medically recommended five days of isolation—but Fox 25 reports that the recent uptick may upset graduation and other end-of-year activities if it continues.

“It’s hard to predict how it will go and how much exposure there is,” Harvard spokeswoman Lindsey Baker told Boston.com. “It’s more just those [end-of-year] events are coming up, so we just want people to take precautions.”

In recent years, the mumps vaccine has drastically reduced incidence of the infection, characterized by puffy cheeks, swollen jaw and salivary glands, headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Nonetheless, Harvard isn’t the only local institution battling the mumps. Cases have also been confirmed this year at UMass Boston, Boston University, and New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College.