Health Services Director Confirms Two Cases of Mumps

Two mumps cases have been confirmed across Harvard’s student body, according to an email sent Tuesday evening by Paul J. Barreira, director of Harvard University Health Services.

An undergraduate student and a graduate student at the Divinity School have contracted the virus, according to Barreira. In his email, Barreira encouraged students to take preventative measures against the virus through standard sanitary practices like handwashing and abstaining from food sharing.

Mumps is a viral illness that affects the salivary glands, and presents itself through symptoms like ear ache, jaw pain, fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Symptoms of the virus can be alleviated through fever and pain reduction treatments.

According to Barreira, students who have been vaccinated can still be infected by the virus, though they are much less likely to contract it.

Barreira wrote that HUHS has contacted the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and was making accommodations for the students who had tested positive for mumps. He added that the Public Health Department is currently determining the scope of potential exposure of the virus to other affiliates of the University.

“Under the direction of the Public Health Department, those who have been diagnosed with mumps or presumptive mumps (while they are awaiting test results) will be advised to self-isolate for five days after the onset of parotid swelling,” Barreira wrote. “Accommodations are being made for those individuals to minimize exposure to others.”

Charlene M. Reese, a parent of the class of 2016, posted on the Harvard Parents Class of 2016 Facebook page she said she administers in order to alert other parents of the outbreak.

“In situations like this it is essential for parents to not feel alone and to be able share their knowledge and experiences,” Reese wrote in an emailed statement.

Barreira included medical resources in his email, including a link to more information about mumps and phone numbers to contact if symptoms arise.

—Staff writer Menaka V. Narayanan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mnarayanan97.