As undergraduates prepare to enjoy spring break with abandon, Harvard is cautioning traveling students in the wake of a mumps outbreak.
The total number of confirmed mumps cases has risen from six to nine within the past week, and mumps patients now live quarantined in “the Houses and Harvard-owned properties,” according to College Spokesperson Rachael Dane. Henry M. N. Brooks ’19, who has mumps, said he was quarantined for the past few days in the Harvard Inn, and that meals were brought to him while he was in isolation.
Now, with students set to depart for spring break this weekend, Harvard University Health Services Director Paul J. Barreira urged caution in order to minimize others’ exposure to mumps.
“With spring recess only a few days away, I know many of you will be leaving the Cambridge area, and I write to remind you that it is even more important to be vigilant in taking precautions to prevent the spread of mumps if you are planning to travel,” Barreira wrote in an email to undergraduates Wednesday evening. “Doing this is crucial to minimizing the exposure of others to the virus.”
On March 1, Barreira announced an official University-wide mumps outbreak. One day later, he said six students had confirmed cases of the mumps. In an email similar to two previous he sent previously, Barreira wrote Wednesday morning that the nine mumps patients are living in isolation, and that those showing symptoms should refrain from traveling and “public activities.”
He also provided a bulleted list of precautionary measures to prevent the disease’s spread, such as refraining from sharing objects like lipstick, water bottles, and cigarettes.
Voicing similar sentiments, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana sent a College-wide email Thursday afternoon reminding students to consider physical health as the break soon approaches.
In the meantime, HUHS has said it is working with the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to determine the scope of the exposure.
—Menaka V. Narayanan contributed reporting to this story.
—Staff writer Jalin P. Cunningham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JalinCunningham.
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