Harvard University alerted students and staffers tonight that an undergraduate student and a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School have confirmed cases of mumps.
In a memo, Dr. Paul J. Barreira, director of Harvard University Health Services, said the school is working with city and state public-health officials "to identify the cause and scope of the infection."
Mumps is a systemic viral illness characterized by swelling of one or more salivary glands. Symptoms may first present as an ear ache or jaw pain, and other non-specific symptoms including fever, muscle aches, and fatigue may also occur. The mumps virus is transmitted by respiratory droplets and by direct contact with nasopharyngeal secretions. Treatment is focused on relief of symptoms such as fever and pain from facial swelling.
Individuals who have previously had mumps are considered immune to the virus. However, those who have been vaccinated for mumps—though much less likely to contract the virus—can still be infected.
The memo urges readers to reduce the risk of transmission through good hygiene - covering mouth and nose during sneezing, frequent hand washing and not sharing glasses, eating utensils and water bottles with friends - and urges anybody experiencing "facial swelling, jaw pain, ear ache, or for males, testicular swelling" to contact Harvard health services.
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. Accommodations are being made for those individuals to minimize exposure to others.