After treating a summer school student for measles earlier this week. University Health Services (UHS) has issued a measles alert and is urging all students who are not immunized against the disease to receive a vaccination.
The alert was instituted Monday, after a student was diagnosed with Rubeola. Symptoms of measles--not to be confused with German Measles, or Rubella--include fever, a runny nose and irriated eyes, followed by a rash on the face and body.
Although no other cases of measles have been reported, more than 80 summer school students responding to a UHS postering campaign have been immunized since Monday, said Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of UHS.
"We hope we've nipped it in the bud," Wacker said. But because the incubation period for measles is about two weeks, he added that any students who have contracted the illness will not experience symptoms until after summer school ends next week.
A measles epidemic last spring broke out at several campuses across the nation, including Boston University. Although Harvard was not hit by the epidemic, about 1500 students and staff were immunized.
Wacker said that students most likely to catch the disease are those born between 1962 and 1967
He added that though there have been several measles epidemics at local area colleges, "most students at Harvard are already immunized."
Last spring, a measles epidemic affected several colleges across the nation and more than 50 students at Boston University contracted measles. The epidemic, however, did not spread across the River.
"We were that close to B.U. and we didn't have an outbreak," said Wacker, adding that over 1800 students and employees received free measles vaccinations from UHS.
In addition to the state law, the American College Health Association, a federal government organization, recommended that colleges and universities require students to show proof of vaccination before allowing them to enter school. Wacker, however, said that the recommendation has yet to be brought to his attention.
Wacker said that to enforce the new state-wide legislation, he would include a notice in the registration packers of incoming freshmen informing them of the vaccination requirements.
He said that until the law takes effect, UHS would continue to "encourage immunization" among all students unsure of their immunity status.
College students are particularly susceptible to measles because they have not been vaccinated against the disease or because they have been immunized with the earliest forms of the vaccine, which are now wearing off, according to officials at the Centers for Disease Control.
The Atlanta-based research institute also found that in 1984, only 16 percent of the country's 3600 colleges required students to receive measles vaccines before entering school. Meanwhile, over 18 percent of the 1802 measles cases reported this year occurred on college campuses.
Hit particularly hard this spring were Boston University and Principia College in Elsah III, where 128 students came down with the virus, three of whom died from the disease