Officials with the Cambridge Public Health Department reported today additional mumps cases among Harvard University students at the Cambridge campus. The current total cases now stands at 11.


Harvard University Health Services Director, Dr Paul J. Barreira wrote in a message to the Harvard community earlier this week:

We all have a responsibility to help prevent the spread of the virus. With spring recess only a few days away, I know many of you will be leaving the Cambridge area, and I write to remind you that it is even more important to be vigilant in taking precautions to prevent the spread of mumps if you are planning to travel.

If you are experiencing facial swelling, jaw pain, ear ache, or testicular swelling, you should refrain from public activities, avoid travel and public transportation, and contact HUHS at 617-495-5711 to be evaluated, even if you have been vaccinated. Doing this is crucial to minimizing the exposure of others to the virus.

Related: UMass Boston reports 2nd mumps case

Mumps spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or talking; sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others; and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others. People may be able to spread mumps from 2 days before symptom onset to 5 days after symptom onset.

Symptoms (Fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides) typically appear 14-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection. Very rarely, the virus can also cause swelling of the heart and joints, meningitis (swelling of the brain and spinal cord), and encephalitis (swelling of the brain itself).

Mumps can be prevented with MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. Most children and young adults have received at least 1 dose of MMR vaccine. Two doses of MMR vaccine are more effective than 1 dose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Mar. 4, 250 mumps cases were reported nationally.

Related: Vaccines: FDA researchers on the mumps and pertussis vaccines