Harvard mumps outbreak grows to 40 cases

The Massachusetts Department of Health reports that an outbreak of mumps at Harvard University has increased significantly since mid-March, with a total of 40 cases confirmed since January 1.

The Massachusetts Department of Health reports that an outbreak of mumps at Harvard University has increased significantly since mid-March, with a total of 40 cases confirmed since January 1. Across the state, 67 cases of mumps have been reported since the beginning of the year, and CDC said that 467 cases had been reported nationwide as of April 1. Scott Zoback, spokesman for the state Department of Public Health, noted that all of the infected students had been vaccinated against mumps. However, it is possible the vaccine was not effective in some people, or that the virus mutated in ways that made the vaccine less effective. Because the vaccine fails to induce immunity in about 12% of people who receive it, outbreaks may sometimes appear even in populations with high vaccination rates. Zoback said, "This shows the importance of both personal protection and immunization. Immunization prevents a wider outbreak when we see periodic increases like this." Cases of mumps have been reported at other universities as well, including at other Boston-area schools and a number of universities in Indiana.