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Harvard University Health Services confirmed there were five active mumps cases on campus as of Tuesday, up from four when the most recent outbreak was announced nearly two weeks ago. Yale also reported potential cases of the virus at the university earlier this week.
Harvard’s current outbreak is the second for mumps on campus this calendar year. At the beginning of March, HUHS confirmed the first cases of mumps and the number of infections rose steadily throughout the semester, culminating in a total of 66 confirmed cases by the end of summer. At the start of September there were no active cases of mumps at Harvard.
HUHS Director Paul J. Barreira said state and local public health officials are still in the process of investigating whether the most recent cases are connected to those from the spring.
According to Barreira, it also remains unclear whether the virus was spread from Cambridge to New Haven during the weekend of the Harvard-Yale football game. On Nov. 19, the Crimson football team hosted this year’s playing of the Harvard-Yale game, an annual tradition between the two schools which drew hundreds of Yale students to Harvard’s campus.
“The message that went out to the Harvard community on Nov. 17 was shared with Yale prior to the Harvard-Yale game to alert them that we had cases on campus,” Barreira wrote in an emailed statement. “It is possible that the virus was spread during that time, but we do not have confirmation of that at this time.”
Yale Health Director Paul Genecin announced that two suspected cases of mumps had been identified in an email to Yale affiliates on Tuesday. The news of the two cases came 10 days after Harvard-Yale.
Genecin wrote that Yale will keep students at the university health center if they are unable to return home. Harvard chose to quarantine infected students in the spring in student housing, particularly the Harvard Inn—a decision which generated concerns from residents living there.
“Students who have mumps or mumps-like symptoms will be asked to go home if they live close enough to New Haven or if their parent or guardian is able to pick them up. Students who are not able to go home will be cared for at Yale Health until they are no longer contagious,” Genecin wrote in the announcement.
Other schools besides Harvard have confirmed cases of the virus on campus. Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., had confirmed eight cases of mumps in April 2016. At least two colleges in the Greater Boston region, Tufts University and Boston University, had their own cases in the spring as well.
Yale Health declined to comment. The university’s Office of Public Affairs and Communication did not respond to multiple requests for comment as of Wednesday evening.
Barreira said HUHS is continuing to work with state and local public health officials to track and monitor the situation and urged students to contact HUHS if they experience symptoms of mumps, which include facial swelling, jaw pain, and testicular swelling.
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