University Health Services (UHS) yesterday reported a small outbreak of German measles within the Harvard community.
Sholem Postel, associate director of UHS, said yesterday doctors have diagnosed between six and 12 cases of German measles since Friday. No one has been admitted to the Stillman Infirmary with German measles, however, Postel added.
Warren E.C. Wacker, director of UHS, said yesterday this many cases in such a short period of time was unusual, but he added that cases usually occur in clusters. "It's nothing to get alarmed about," Wacker said.
Wacker said the disease is highly contagious for people who have not been immunized or had the German measles in childhood.
"The immunity of the population is an important consideration. My assumption is that Harvard's immunity is quite high," Wacker said, adding, "Most here have had German measles in childhood."
Symptons include a rash, possibly a small fever, and the swelling of the lymph glands in the back of the neck, Wacker said. "Basically the patient will feel very tired," he added.
German measles typically lasts three or four days, Wacker said. "There is no specific treatment for it. We advise that the patient take aspirin, get lots of rest, and drink plenty of fluids," Wacker said.
"It is basically a mild, self-limiting disease," Wacker said. "I imagine a lot of people have a touch of it and don't know it," he added.
Postel said UHS will today examine the daily report sheets, records of patients who use UHS's walk-in facilities, for the past week. "We'll have a better idea of how many cases we've treated after checking the reports," Postel said.
UHS will not quarantine any students known to have German measles, Wacker said. "The only real danger is for pregnant women in the first trimester of pregnancy," he said.