At least 41 people at Harvard University have been diagnosed with the mumps, according to university officials. The news comes as a second outbreak has been reported at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut where at least eight have been diagnosed with the mumps.
At Harvard, 11 people have been put into isolation in an effort to stop the virus from spreading through campus, according to school officials.
“Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) has been actively working with groups from across the university to keep the Harvard community informed about best practices for preventing the spread of mumps,” Dr. Paul Barria, director of HUHS, said in a statement yesterday. The school is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Cambridge Public Health Department.
At least 40 of the people sickened at Harvard were vaccinated. The source of the outbreak, which was first reported on Feb. 29, remains unknown.
A second outbreak was reported Wednesday by Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, where eight students have reportedly been infected with the virus. Another 17 possible cases are still being investigated. All students have fully recovered.
College students are particularly at risk for contracting the virus, health officials told ABC News. The mumps is spread through the saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although most people are vaccinated against mumps at a young age through the MMR vaccine, the vaccination does not provide full protection. Two doses of the vaccine are approximately 88 percent effective at preventing mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective, according to the CDC.
“This is really happening in congregate settings where people are in dormitories,” Susan Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Cambridge Public Health Department, told ABC News yesterday. “College campuses are the perfect storm, because students are sharing all kind so things, they’re in close contact and going to parties.”
Symptoms of the virus include fever, tiredness, muscle aches and swollen glands. In rare cases, severe complications including meningitis or inflammation of the ovaries or testicles can occur.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said colleges and universities have been at the center of many mumps outbreak in recent years.
“Universities are a wonderful receptor site for young adults incubating mumps,” he noted.