Harvard mumps outbreak now 59 cases | Outbreak News Today Outbreak News Today
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The mumps outbreak on the Harvard University campus has reached 59 confirmed cases as of Thursday, May 12, according to Cambridge public health officials. The cases include current Harvard students, faculty, and staff.

Harvard Hall Image/Daderot

Harvard Hall
Image/ Daderot

The contagious viral outbreak has caused concern with school officials, particularly with Commencement activities and those studying abroad this summer.

According to Harvard University Health Services Director Paul J. Barreira, “Given the two- to three-week incubation period for the mumps virus, students who come down with the virus at this point may have to miss certain end-of-year and/or summer activities if they are ill.”

Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared.

Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection. It is usually a mild disease, but can occasionally cause serious complications.

The most common complication is inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems.

Other rare complications include inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord(encephalitis/meningitis), inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty and deafness. Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps.

As of April 29, 2016, the CDC reports 727 mumps cases nationally.




  1. Ryszard... says:

    Since all students are vaccinated by law could this, from Huffington Post, be anything to do with the outbreak: Merck’s misconduct was far-ranging: It “failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented, (ii) used improper testing techniques, (iii) manipulated testing methodology, (iv) abandoned undesirable test results, (v) falsified test data, (vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, (vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling, (viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA, (ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract, (x) engaged in the fraud and concealment describe herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine, (xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and (xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing.” ?http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lawrence-solomon/merck-whistleblowers_b_5881914.html

  2. Jeff says:

    As of May 20th the CDC have not announced this outbreak. It is not clear whether the CDC has been formally notified. There is no information on the genotype of this strain. There are 12 strains of mumps, named A to G. The US vaccinates against type A. Most outbreaks are type G. Immune responses measuring IG levels can indicate whether we seeing vaccine immunity or natural immunity in the population at Harvard.

    We need more information. Many diseases can present as Mumps. What does the CDC say about this genotype?

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