Two girls from Briggs Hall have come down with infections hepatitis, a disease of the Mver, Dr. Curtis Prout '37, associate director of University Health Services confirmed yesterday.
Another girl from Briggs and a boy from Leverett House have also been admitted to Stillman Infirmary with "probable" cases of the disease, he said. All four patieats are in isolation.
Prout stressed that "we do not have an epidemic," and said that the Health Services usually isolate several cases of hepatitis each year. Because of the long incubation period for the disease, however--from 30 to 60 days--it will be six weeks before the University is sure the disease has not spread.
Spreads Through Contact
The only precautionary measure taken by the Administration, so far has been to administer gamma globulin, a blood plasma rich in antibodies, to roommates and other close friends of the four students. Prout said the disease is "not communicable except in very early stages," and spreads only through close personal contact.
He described all the cases so far as "mild," and estimated that ten days in the infirmary would be sufficient to care them.
The last epidemic of infections hepatitis at Harvard was in 1954, when 15 students in the College alone contracted the disease. During the Second World War, Prout said, there were regularly 30 to 40 cases of hepatitis, often of a much more severe strain. He said that in the past two years there has been a "mild increase" in the number of cases reported in Massachusetts.