Harvard mumps outbreak spikes to 41; could affect commencement

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WPVI) -- After investing 4 years and thousands of dollars in an education at Harvard University, some students might not be allowed at commencement.

The university has been grappling with a mumps outbreak - now in its third month - and students sick or possibly infected with the virus won't be allowed at the ceremonies.

The number of confirmed cases hit 41 Wednesday, and it has more than tripled since mid-March.

That pace of new cases has campus and community health officials worried because the outbreak is growing, despite efforts to keep infected students isolated.

Health experts say students aren't taking sufficient precautions against spreading the virus.

One health officer believes students aren't acting in a responsible way, that they aren't taking proper cautions, and are infecting others.

The mumps virus is contagious. It spreads by coughing, sneezing, or talking, sharing items such as cups or eating utensils and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

Virtually all of the 41 students with confirmed cases had been vaccinated.

However, either their immunity weakened or the mumps virus has changed.