As Students Prepare for Summer Travel, Number of Mumps Cases Hits 58

As the year draws to a close, the number of mumps cases on Harvard’s campus continues to rise, with 58 confirmed cases as of Wednesday. Students planning to partake in end-of-year Commencement activities or study abroad this summer were advised on measures to take if they experience symptoms of of the virus.

An email sent out last week from the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office informed students of the mumps outbreak on campus, and encouraged students to refrain from travelling if they experienced any mumps symptoms.

In the email, students were advised to call Harvard Travel Assist if they experienced any symptoms of mumps while abroad, and were told that case managers “will advise you on your situation and work with us to connect you with appropriate resources.”

According to Stephanie T. Kacoyanis, a spokesperson for the Harvard Division of Continuing Education, the Summer School has met with Harvard University Health Services and Global Support Services to discuss issues surrounding the potential spread of the virus abroad.

Though students travelling abroad have to undergo a “health clearance” process, which includes necessary inoculations required for the country of destination, no additional screening for mumps is in place, Kacoyanis said. She added that the Summer School Study Abroad Office would not change any policies due to mumps.

“As of now, no changes to any programs are planned, but we will continue to monitor the situation,” Kacoyanis wrote in an email.

HUHS director Paul J. Barreira, who previously expressed concern and asked students to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, said students infected with the virus would not be able to participate in end-of-year activities.

“[G]iven 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,” Barreira wrote in an email statement.

Mumps is transmitted through salivary exchange, or respiratory droplets, fairly large particles that come out of people’s mouths and noses.

Those infected with mumps have been placed under quarantine for five days—Harvard College students experiencing symptoms have been housed at the Harvard Inn. The outbreak, which Barreira first confirmed in late February, has affected various groups on campus and spread throughout the Boston area.

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

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